Coming Arab summit: Palestinian cause given top priority

Published March 22nd, 2017 - 06:00 GMT
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C-L) Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat (2-L), Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (2-R) speak during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, on May 28, 2016. (AFP /STRINGER)
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C-L) Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat (2-L), Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (2-R) speak during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, on May 28, 2016. (AFP /STRINGER)

The Palestinian cause will be granted huge attention in the coming Arab summit, said Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Abu al-Gheit, adding that the Palestinian Authority wishes to reformulate solutions and present them at the talks.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked Abu al-Gheit to evaluate the Arab scene, especially after his visits to Jordan, Iraq and Qatar and after holding consultations with all Arab countries. He revealed that there is a wish to reach a settlement in many topics that stand as a barrier among Arab countries and leaders.

The summit is scheduled to be held in the Jordanian capital Amman at the end of the month.

Asked about his visit to Qatar and if he witnessed any positive change in Qatari-Egyptian relations, Abu al-Gheit replied: “Bilateral relations were not discussed because I was not assigned to do so. Yet, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is highly interested in Egypt and its stability and economy.”

Tackling the US administration, Abu al-Gheit said that there is cooperation between the Arab League and the US, adding that he recently received an invitation to participate in the meeting of ministers of the Global Coalition that will be held in Washington later on Wednesday.

On the Arab League agenda, he said: “There are 16 items and up to 30 on the level of delegates and ministers. A brief closing statement will be issued at the end of the summit to reveal stances on social, economic and political affairs. All the topics are considered priorities: the Palestinian cause, Arab national security, confronting terrorism, Syrian crisis, Yemen, Libya, enhancing performance of the Arab League and the social and economic files.”

Asharq Al-Awsat asked the secretary general how the summit will deal with the Syrian file. He replied that the reasons that prevented Syria from occupying its seat still exist and when the Syrian regime and opposition agree on a roadmap then the transitional government might represent Syria in the Arab League.

On Arab efforts to bolster national security and confront Iranian meddling, Abu al-Gheit replied that this item will be discussed at the summit.

Iraq usually shows reservations on such stances against Iran for a few reasons, including that it shares borders and has common interests with it, he added.

He acknowledged Iranian attempts to intervene in the affairs of Arab countries, saying it should stop doing so and seek building good relations with its Arab neighbors.

Commenting on the situation in Libya, the threats between leaders and the access of arms to militias, but not the Libyan National Army, Abu al-Gheit said that this must be a central issue at the summit because the situation in the country is deteriorating.

When asked about his aspiration for the Arab summit, the secretary general hoped that the majority of Arab leaders would attend it and that it would lead to agreements and settlements of conflicts.

He also hoped it would shed light again on the Arab stance towards the Palestinian cause, which is the two-state solution, and that it would once again adopt the Arab Peace Initiative.

By Sawsan Abu-Husain


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