Arab States Pledge Palestinian Support, Take No Action Against Trump Peace Plan

By Edward Yeranian February 01, 2020

Arab foreign ministers pledged support Saturday for the Palestinian cause at an extraordinary summit in Cairo, criticizing the Trump administration's peace plan but taking no concrete action to oppose it.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the plan, though, saying he was "cutting security relations with both the U.S. and Israel."

The foreign ministers applauded Abbas' fiery speech denouncing the Trump administration's "Deal of the Century" peace plan, which he vowed "never to accept." He also said he would not accept that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem, he insisted, "is our capital."

Abbas read off other grievances against the peace plan, saying it would give the Palestinians "a piece of Swiss cheese," with "no sovereignty over either land, sea or air," and "just 22% of historic [British-mandated] Palestine," including several Arab towns now inside Israel.

Dismissive of 'Sham'

Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, who sat next to Abbas, advising him at times over the choice of words, broke the monotony of Abbas' angry litany, mocking the Trump peace plan in English.

"We strongly disapprove of the 'Sham of the Century,' " he said.

Abbas also expressed displeasure with a provision in the plan saying Palestinians must "show good will," and another provision that the Palestinian Authority "must disarm Gaza," which is now controlled by the rival Hamas group.

Arab League head Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the gathering the "change of America's position vis-a-vis the Palestinians" and its "disregard for historic U.N. resolutions" toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "do not help the cause of peace."

He said Saturday's meeting was meant to "examine the negative effects of the Trump peace plan," arguing it did "not meet the basic demands of the Palestinians" and would "sow the seeds of another 100 years of conflict."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri urged Israel "not to continue creating facts on the ground," alluding to the creation of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank or Jerusalem. "Delaying a just and fair solution," he added, "will promote regional and world instability."

Jordanian: No changes in Jerusalem

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also warned Israel not to tamper with the current religious situation in Jerusalem, in which Amman is responsible for Islamic holy sites, including the al-Aqsa Mosque. He said there must be no changes to the traditional situation in Jerusalem. The city, he insisted, is the symbol of peace and must continue to embody peace.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Hakim urged "all Arab countries to help the Palestinians," and Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled al-Khalif, urged Palestinians and Israelis to "start [direct] negotiations immediately, in order to achieve an acceptable agreement."

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Ghargash, reiterated the point, adding, "Dialogue is the key to a peace solution," and "Each side must make difficult decisions, given the serious regional situation."

Verbal backing, but no more

Egyptian political sociologist Said Sadek told VOA that Arab foreign ministers "gave verbal support to the Palestinians" but most Arab states are "too busy with their own problems and interests to do more than that."

"Arab countries," he insisted, "are no longer willing to fight wars for the Palestinians, as they did in 1948, 1967 or 1973."

"The Arab people had little reaction" to the Trump peace plan in the streets of most capitals, and "little to no reaction at Friday prayers in mosques across the region," he added.

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