An Update about the Arab Summit in Jordan
The Arab Summit in Jordan, concluded on March 29, 2017 (https://www.arabsummit2017.jo/en/news), was held under the title “do not split up” (In Arabic the Quranic version: Wala Tafarraqou, a pledge in the name of God to keep being united).
The summit was attended by 15 Arab Presidents and Kings, with the exception of only 7 Arab leaders: Syria was not invited, the Algerian President, the Oman Sultan, and the UAE Emir were ill, while Iraq and Libya were represented by their respective Prime Ministers. Last minute, the King of Morroco explained his absence doubting that “The summit style of speeches will be enough in order to solve the Arab problems”.
During the summit all the leaders made speeches, except for the United Arab Emirates and Oman as part of the Gulf Countries’ arrangement regarding the rotating spokesperson for the group.
(A general view shows Arab leaders attending the talks of the Arab League summit)
In addition to the Arabs, the UN General Secretary, the EU head of EEAS Ms Mogherini, and the American Envoy Jason Greenbaldt attended. In addition, there was a French Representaive attending, and others from the OIC and the African Union, among others.
On the sidelines of the summit, several reconciliation meetings were held between the Arab leaders, such as President Sisi of Egypt and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and the meeting between King Salman and the Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al Ebad.
Nevertheless, no reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar was possible. President Sisi decided to leave the Summit hall in order to meet King Salman, just as the Emir of Qatar Tamim started his speech.
Other political meetings were also held in the summit context, three of them are important to mention in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, focused on how to resume “Serious and effective Palestinian Israeli peace talks”: one between King Abdallah of Jordan, President Sisi, President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, and Ms Federica Mogherini, and one between Abdallah, Sisi and Abbas. Additionally, Mr Greenbladt held separate meetings with the leaders of Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, to confirm US President Trump’s “personal interest to get to a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict”
In regard to the summit resolutions, it is noticeable that the summit’s “Amman Declaration” did not mention Iran directly, but instead it called the “neighboring countries to stop their intervention in the internal affairs of the Arab countries, and to try to develop relations based on mutual respect with the Arab countries”.
(Twenty one kings, presidents and top officials from the Arab League summit pose for a group photo, at a gathering near the Dead Sea in Jordan on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.)
In regard to the Arab (and Palestinian) Israeli conflict, the Amman Declaration included the following calls:
– To act for the launching of serious and effective I-P negotiations with a time schedule aiming at reaching a two states solution on 1967 borders and at establishing the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as it capital.
– Stressing the Arab commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative with all its articles as a basis for comprehensive peace and reconciliation between the Arab Countries and Israel to be achieved after the Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian occupied territories and going back to the 1967 borders.
– Reject all the Israeli unilateral steps, and those taken in Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque. The Summit alternatively confirmed and supported the continuation of the Jordanian custodianship over the Holy Places in Jerusalem.
– Call upon the implementation of the UNSC Council resolutions 252, 267, 465, and 478 about Jerusalem, and requesting the countries of the world not to move their Embassis in Israel to Jerusalem. Finally, the declaration confirmed the support to the UNESCO resolution of 18/11/2018 regarding the Islamic Holy Places in Jerusalem, and called upon Israel to stop its violations in Al Aqsa mosque.
– Call for the implementation of the UNSC resolution 2334 and all the Internatinal legitimacy resolutions regarding Palestine.
– Support the results of Paris Conference of 15th of January 2017.
– Support Palestinian reconciliation and the establishment of a Palestinian Unity Government.
– Call upon the Arab Countires to implement previous resolutions to support Palestine with 100 million dollars starting from the 1st of April, and to support Al Aqsa and Al Quds Funds( both for supporting Jerusalem with 500 million dollars.
(Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaks to reporters at the conclusion of the Arab summit on Wednesday)
– The Arab Peace Initiative was confirmed without any change.
– All the media talk about regional conference between the Arabs and Israeli without Palestinian participation was proved to be wrong. Instead, the summit confirmed the impotence of the negotiations between the two I-P sides with Arab regional support.
-The mechanism of the API that Jordan and Egypt are the two countries to be involved directly in promoting the API to Israel and supporting the track of negotiations between the two sides was respected. The meetings to discuss the peace process was held with the participation of these parties without others joining such as for instance the Gulf Countries.
– The Arab European coordination regarding the peace process was strengthened.
– In His speech the General Secteray of the UN mentioned the importance of developing coordination between the UN and the Arab League.
– The American Envoy attended the summit, therefore the Trump Administration was better informed about the Arab positions. April will witness the visit of King Abdallah to Washington, this time in his capacity as the head of the summit till March 2018, as well as the visits of Sisi and Abbas. We will see how the American position will emerge after those meetings.
– Arab-Arab reconciliations were made mainly between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while good relations between Palestine and Egypt were restored mainly in regard to coordination about the upcoming peace process.
In conclusion: This was a successful summit with high percentage of Arab leaders participation and strong decisions. What will follow are the April meetings in Washington that might create a momentum forward, and that will continue till next year Arab Summit in March, that will take place in Riyadh/ Saudi Arabia after the UAE apologized for not hosting it.
Walid Salem has been director of the Center for Democracy and Community Development (CDCD) in East Jerusalem since 1993. He teaches democracy and human rights at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and is the author of numerous books and articles on democracy, civil society, citizenship, refugee issues and Jerusalem.