A video conference meeting of Arab foreign ministers was held on Wednesday for talks on the highly controversial Israel-UAE peace deal, which was brokered by the White House last month.
“After a three-hour debate, some Arab countries refused to include [a] statement condemning [the UAE] for abandoning Arab decisions,” Palestinian Authority Representative to the Arab League Muhannad al-Aklouk told Ma’an News afterwards, referring to the long-standing Arab consensus over a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the 1967 borders.
Additionally, he said, “they struck out a clause which discussed the trilateral agreement” between the US, Israel and the UAE, which was announced by the White House on August 13.
Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki also told reporters that the “discussions regarding this point were serious. It was comprehensive and took some time. But it did not lead in the end to agreement about the draft resolution that was proposed by the Palestinian side.”
He blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the pan-Arab body to endorse the resolution, claiming they had insisted that they would either accept a condemnation or no statement at all.
“A number of amendments were proposed, and then counter-amendments … and we were at a point in which Palestinian demands had not been realized, and the Palestinians preferred it not to pass rather than have it pass in a manner which they believed to be inadequate,” Zaki said.
An earlier report by Reuters had claimed that the Palestinians would tone down their criticism of the UAE’s betrayal at the meeting.
Aklouk, however said, the Arab foreign ministers had agreed to emphasize in the meeting’s final communiqué on commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as well as the so-called two-state solution and the land-for-peace principle as part of any resolution of the decades-long conflict with Israel.
He said some Arab states had attempted to add some provisions to give a form of legitimacy to the normalization deal, Aklouk said.
“In response, Palestine presented a draft resolution that condemns the UAE-Israel normalization deal. The Arab countries, however, voted down the draft.”
Addressing the session, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit claimed that the Palestinian cause is and will continue to be the subject of Arab consensus, and that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative remains the road map for a just solution.
“I reiterate our rejection of any plans or arrangements presented internationally that would undermine the Palestinian right, or prejudice the status of the city of Jerusalem [al-Quds], whose case should be resolved within the framework of the final settlement,” he said.
Abul Gheit, however, added each country has the “sovereign and indisputable right” to conduct its foreign policy in the way it sees fit.
Palestine reacts with anger: ‘Triumph of money over dignity’
After the Palestinian resolution was voted down, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki decried the Arab League’s uselessness and hypocrisy, noting that Palestinians constantly heard from third parties about Arab officials paying lip service to the Palestinian cause in public while maintaining relations with Israel in private.
“[Other countries] would confirm to us that [Arab League] decisions were nothing more than ink on paper to mollify the Palestinians. It puts us in an embarrassing position,” the top Palestinian diplomat concluded.
Additionally, senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh called the Arab League’s failure to condemn the normalization deal “the triumph of money over dignity.”
“The Arab League has not produced anything. It has given the entire region condemnations of everyone ad nauseum — except for Israel. This is a thunderous collapse, the use of ‘national sovereignty’ to justify subservience,” he said.
Hazem Qassem, spokesman for the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, also condemned the Arab League’s position, stressing, “This inability to condemn the UAE merely tempts Israel and the United States to continue implementing their plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Similarly, Dawood Shihab, spokesman for the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad movement, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television network that the Arab League’s indifference towards the deal legitimizes Israel’s normalization efforts and paves the way for the disintegration of Arab countries through US schemes.
Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat said that if Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit could not condemn the UAE-Israel treaty, he ought to resign.