Arabs to unite against Israel at annual summit

2010-03-27 09:08

Arab leaders open their annual summit today determined to send a

clear message to Israel that any plan to “Judaise” Jerusalem would spell doom

for the Middle East peace process.

The summit is the first to be hosted by Libyan leader Muammar

Gaddafi , the longest-serving Arab head of state who considers Israel the

“enemy” and has frequently lambasted Arab countries who seek peace with the

Jewish state.

It comes amid a spiral of violence that an Israeli general said

killed two soldiers and four Palestinians yesterday as Israel’s Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to stay the course with his east Jerusalem settlement


Fresh US efforts to broker indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

earlier this month were still-born when Israel announced a plan to build 1 600

new homes for Jewish settlers in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

The announcement, made during a visit to Israel by US Vice

President Joe Biden, enraged Washington and infuriated the Palestinians, who

just days earlier had agreed to enter US-led “proximity” talks with the


Arab League chief Amr Mussa set the tone by insisting that Israel

scrap the plans to build the new homes for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem

before indirect talks with the Palestinians can start.

“Indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks depend on freezing

settlements and especially on cancelling plans by Israel to build 1 600

settlements in (east) Jerusalem,” he said.

The summit is expected to adopt a resolution on the terms for a

resumption of peace talks, Mussa said.

“We went the extra mile and now the ball is 100 percent in the

American and Israeli courts,” Hisham Yussef, a senior Arab League official, told

AFP on the eve of the summit.

Pro-Western and radical Arab leaders have also been angered by the

opening of a restored 17th century synagogue near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound –

home to Islam’s third holiest site.

They see such acts as a clear intention by Israel to “Judaise”

Jerusalem and undermine chances for a peace agreement with the Palestinians who

consider east Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who was among the first Arab leaders to

arrive in Gaddafi’s Mediterranean hometown of Sirte for the summit, warned this

week that Israel was “playing with fire” and trying to alter the identity of


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ahead of the summit described

tensions with Israel as a “state of no-war, no-peace,” and said his country

stood ready if “war is imposed” by Israel.

Arab leaders are expected to ratify an agreement drafted by their

foreign ministers to raise 500 million dollars in aid to improve living

conditions for Palestinians in Jerusalem as part of a “rescue” plan for the Holy


A senior Palestinian official said the money would go towards

improving infrastructure, building hospitals, schools, water wells and providing

financial support to those whose houses have been demolished by Israeli


The leaders are also due to mull a number of strategies, including

keeping a record of what they consider to be Israeli “violations” in Jerusalem

to refer them to higher bodies such as the International Criminal Court.

Chronic inter-Arab disputes which have billowed at past Arab

summits, are expected to be put on the back burner in Sirte as Arab leaders

unite to consider their next move against Israel.

Libya, which wants the summit to be one of unity, has also invited

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Turkish Prime

Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to address today’s opening session.

Ban arrived Friday and met with Arab officials, including Abbas, to

brief them on last week’s meeting of the Middle East Quartet – the United

States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – which called on Israel

to halt settlements.

Gaddafi, who has often ruffled the feathers of his fellow Arab

leaders and even traded insults with them, gave his guests a red-carpet welcome

as they began arriving yesterday and treated them to a bedouin show of song and


Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who is facing an international

arrest warrant for alleged war crimes and a crucial electoral test at

presidential polls next month, was among those who flew in.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.