The Arab League reiterated support for Palestinian statehood based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, but gave an unprecedented signal to Ramallah by refusing to condemn Israel’s normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.
The decision came during a video conference by the Foreign Ministers of the 22 member states. The League’s Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki confirmed that despite serious deliberations, the Palestinian effort to garner unified backing from Arab nations in rejection of the agreement, also known as the Abraham Accord, had failed.
“Actually, discussions regarding this point were serious and it was comprehensive, and it took some time,” said Zaki, acknowledging that “it did not lead in the end to an agreement about the draft resolution which was presented by the Palestinian side.”
The Saudi-proposed Arab initiative last re-endorsed by the Arab League in 2017 would allow for normalized relations between the Arab world and Israel, in exchange for the full Israeli withdrawal from lands the Arab League perceives as ‘occupied territories,’ including the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and parts of the Upper Galilee. It also calls for a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee problem based on United Nations Resolution 194, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Ramallah argued that the Arab League should condemn the Washington-brokered pact between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi on grounds that it contravenes the 2002 Initiative and was dismayed by the seeming backlash.
“The tripartite U.S.-Israeli-Emirati announcement was this ‘earthquake’ – and instead of taking our side on the Arab level in front of this regression reflected by this announcement – we found ourselves in a position where we defend ourselves and our cause,” stated Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, adding, “The situation turned upside-down in a way where we became the troublemakers and the ones to blame, because we dared to stand in front of the ‘earthquake’ as we stood in front of the U.S. administration when they (U.S.) took our rights.”
The Islamist Hamas organization responded to the development with the scathing accusation that, “the Arab League has abandoned its responsibility towards the Palestinian cause by giving justifications for normalization and agreements with (what it referred to as) the Israeli occupation.”
The Hamas statement echoed a warning issued by Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Saeb Erekat last month, that the Arab League ‘would become irrelevant’ if it failed to adopt a unified position against the Israeli-Emirati deal.