The Arab League has set up a support plan for the Palestinians in the economic, political and media sectors, League Secretary General Esmat Abdel Meguid said Sunday. Meguid and the seven Arab foreign ministers — from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories — are in Damascus for the second meeting of the Cairo summit follow-up committee. This committee was created after the October 21-22 Arab summit in the Egyptian capital convened to support the Palestinian uprising against Israel, or intifada.
The head of the political section of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Faruq Kaddumi, Palestinian cooperation minister Nabil Shaath, as well as the Saudi vice minister of foreign affairs Nizar Madani and his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi, will also attend the meeting. The meeting is due to start Sunday night and is scheduled to close on Monday. Meguid said the committee will next meet in Tunisia in January. The first meeting took place during the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Doha last month.
After the Cairo summit, Arab countries had threatened to freeze their relations with Israel. Tunisia, Morocco, Qatar and Oman broke their ties with the Jewish state and Egypt called back its ambassador in Tel Aviv. On Sunday, the Syrian daily Ath-Thawra published an editorial saying it was time the Cairo summit follow-up committee issued "firm recommendations against Israel."
"Never has the Arab nation needed to be more united than today," the editorial said
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) said Sunday it only received $31.5 million for the Palestinians out of the one billion decided at the Arab summit in Cairo. "The IDB has only received $30 million representing part of Saudi Arabia's contribution to the al-Qods (Jerusalem) fund and Egypt's $1.5 million donation to the intifada fund", IDB President Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. The IDB is the fund-collecting body of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
During the October 21-22 Cairo summit, Arab countries had decided to create two funds totaling one billion dollars: an $800 million fund for Jerusalem and $200 million to help the families of the victims of the intifada, or uprising, and pay for their children's education.
One of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's advisors, Nabil Abu Rudeina, denounced Tuesday the tardiness of this aid. "All the Palestinian people, who daily sacrifice their blood, have seen so far are promises of Arab financial aid", he said. The only sum actually paid from the IDB to the Palestinians comes from a Saudi donation, he said.
With a $250 million pledge, Saudi Arabia is the biggest contributor in a total commitment of $653 million from Arab countries. — (AFP, Damascus, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)