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Arab Peace Initiative Committee Rebukes Israel, Supports Palestine’s Bid for UN Non-Member State and Arafat’s Death Probe

July 24, 2012 (TSR) – The Arab Peace Initiative Committee and the Arab Ministerial Committee convened on Sunday in Doha to discuss latest developments and peacemaking efforts between the Palestinians and Israel, and on the Syrian arena.

The Arab Peace Initiative Committee meeting opened at Doha Sheraton Hotel, chaired by HE Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, who was also the Chairman of the Committee.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League Secretary General Dr. Nabil Arabi attended the meeting with other Arab foreign ministers such as UAE’s FM H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Algeria’s FM Mourad Medelci, Saudi FM Prince Saud al-Faisal, Lebanon’s FM Adnan Mansour, Egypt’s FM Mohamed Kamel Amr, Jordan’s FM Nasser Judeh, Bahrain’s FM Ghanim bin Fadl Buainain and Tunisia’s FM Rafik Abdessalem.

A General view at the Arab Peace Initiative Committee Meeting in Doha Sunday July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

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The meeting came at the request of Abbas to establish a “united position” on asking the UN to admit Palestine as a non-member state.

The meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee’s issued a statement in support of the Palestinian Authority against Israel’s intransigence in refusing negotiations and stressed the need to move in quick steps to strengthen the Palestinian national unity.

The committee also issued a statement, condemning Israeli unilateral measures, namely the continued settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It called for a decisive international intervention to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and hold it accountable for settlers’ crimes against the Palestinian people.

Palestinian efforts to register the Nativity Church in Bethlehem on UNESCO’s world heritage sites list are to be applauded, the committee said, adding that Israel must accept the two state solution and the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks is tied to full cessation of settlement construction.

“The international community and the United Nations must do more to lift the oppressive and illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, and immediately stop settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” it added.

The meeting also discussed developments of the Palestinian question in its various aspects as well as the Palestinian and Arab world move during the next stage in light of the stumbling peace process.

ARAB FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINE

The committee thanked all member states who committed to their financial promises to support the Palestinian Authority financially, calling on other Arab states to fulfill their financial obligations.

The committee also confirmed resolution 551, made at the Arab League summit in Baghdad, which requires Arab donors to provide $100 million per month to the PA.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that a US$100 million “safety net” was approved at the meeting to help the Palestinian Authority if Israel follows through with threats to block critical tax funds as punishment for the statehood drive by Palestinians. The Arab League secretary general was tasked with following up on this matter and coordinating the effort with Arab countries, according to Erekat.

The Palestinian President expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Iraqi government to provide $ 25 million in support of the Palestinian Authority in light of the current difficult circumstances.

Abbas also thanked Saudi Arabia for its financial contributions, adding that reconciliation talks are progressing but Hamas has slowed the process by stopping the work of the central elections committee.

YASSER ARAFAT’S TO BE EXHUMED

Palestinian Authority (PA)President Mahmoud Abbas suggested to form an international commission to investigate into the death of former President Arafat following the new evidence revealed in the Al Jazeera report, explained Dr. Erekat.

President Abbas confirmed he supports exhuming late president Yasser Arafat’s body for examination.

The Arab Peace Initiative Committee then approved during the meeting the Palestinian proposal to form an international commission to investigate into the death of President Yasser Arafat, Dr. Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s chief negotiator.

Arab League Secretary General, Dr. Nabil al-Arabi will be charged with preparing the full file at the criminal, medical, political and judicial levels, the Palestinian official added.

Dr. al-Arabi will follow-up the file ‘in person’ with full support of the Palestinian side, he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal speaks with his Algerian counterpart Mourad Medelci during the Arab Peace Initiative Committee Meeting in Doha, Sunday.

ON SYRIA

The meeting issued decisions and statements about the latest developments in Syria, with several items on how to end the deepening crisis and the peaceful transition of power in Syria, and stressed the decision to provide greater support to Syrian civilians inside Syria and those displaced to neighboring countries. The meeting agreed to form a $ 100 million fund from the member states of the Arab League in order to deliver urgent humanitarian needs of food and medical supplies to the Syrian people.

The Chairman of the Iraqi delegation, the Undersecretary for Policy Planning and Bilateral Relations, Labeed Abbawi participated in interventions that stressed the peaceful transition and in Syria to avoid a vacuum in the political and security situation, which could kill a lot of Syrian civilians and pointed out that the consensus in the meetings, is a source of strength, not weakness.

QATAR STATEMENTS REGARDING SYRIA

HE Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman of the Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria, has regretted the failure of all Arab and international initiatives geared toward ensuring a peaceful transfer of authority in Syria and staunching bloodshed, because of the Syrian regime’s clinging to a security solution.

Opening the meeting of the Ministerial Committee at Sheraton Doha, he said “we have launched successive Arab , and later international initiatives to convince our brethren and the ruling authority in Syria to heed the desire of the free Syrian people”.

In October 2011, the Arab League presented an initiative to solve the Syria crisis , and in January 22 this year proposed an organized withdrawal of the Syrian regime under Arab League supervision, preserving for Syria its status in the Arab world, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim recalled.

Regrettably, the League’s initiatives fell on deaf ears whereas accusations against the League continued and the Syrian regime held up to a unilateral solution using force to kill innocent women and children,” he said.

HE Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim said warnings preceded the current situation in Syria, before the Syrian people started to defend themselves whereas their struggle was described by some as a war of criminal gangs. He urged for a secure way out of the crisis, maintaining the national fabric of Syria.

“This,” he added, “need a courageous decision by the Syrian President to transfer power peacefully to stem bloodshed.”

The objective of the mission of Kofi Annan, the envoy of the Arab League and the UN should change to target a peaceful transition of power in Syria. The Arab Ministerial Committee was not successful in transferring power and staunching blood-letting in Syria, he added. “We were unsuccessful at the Arab and international levels to transfer power because of objections at the UN Security Council, the matter which leads to more blood in Syria”, he said , adding that differences at the Council is a license for more killings.

HE The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister hoped that the UN Security Council will reassess the situation in Syria for the interest of this region and the strategic ties of the world with Syria. “It’s time to achieve this objective”, he said.

“The world’s public opinion was hurt by the UN Security Council’s latest resolution on Syria which was shocking, and would only prolong the crisis.”

HE Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim emphasized that the Syrian people will eventually achieve their objectives, expressing the hope this would be realized with the least possible losses and destruction.

He hoped that the meeting of the Ministerial Committee would be able to “design a course for an understanding with the Syrian regime in order to stop the bloodshed and secure a peaceful transfer of power.”

Addressing the Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi said that the grave situation in Syria “required a new Arab approach” leading to stopping bloodshed there.

“As the Annan and Arab efforts bore no fruits, a new course must be found to deal with the next phase of the conflict, dealing with the situation on the ground,” he said.

He warned of a civil war in Syria and called for discussing the plight of the Syrian refugees whose numbers are increasing in neighbouring countries. He also warned against Israel’s involvement in the crisis under the pretext of securing alleged Syrian chemical weapons.

The Arab League’s ministerial committee on Syria brings together Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman.

The attendees also expressed support for the call of King of Saudi Arabia to hold an Islamic Summit on August 14-15 in Mecca.

ABOUT THE ARAB PEACE INITIATIVE

The Arab Peace Initiative is a comprehensive peace initiative first proposed in 2002 at the Beirut Summit of the Arab League by then-Crown Prince, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and re-endorsed at the Riyadh Summit in 2007.The initiative attempts to end the Arab–Israeli conflict, which means normalizing relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem) and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee crisis based on UN Resolution 194 (which calls for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and resolves that any refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors” should be able to do so or, if they otherwise wish, should be provided with compensation).

Only ten of the twenty-two leaders invited to the March 27 Arab League summit in Beirut, Lebanon could make it. The missing included Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Jordan.  Ariel Sharon’s government, despite American and European pressure, had told Arafat that he would not be allowed to return if he left for the summit.

The Arab League members unanimously endorsed the peace initiative on March 27. It consists of a comprehensive proposal to end the entire Arab–Israeli conflict. The initiative refers to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, which emphasizes the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.

With the exception of Libya, all leaders from the Arab League’s 22 member states attended  and the initiative was fully re-endorsed by all members but the delegate from Hamas, then-Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, abstained during the two-day summit in Riyadh, the capital of Saudia Arabia, from March 28, to March 29, 2007. In contrast, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas voted in favor.The initiative itself was left unchanged during its re-adoption. Until the eve of the summit, members had refused to consider altering any part of it.Arab League head Amr Moussa stated that the Israel-Palestinian conflict was at a crossroads where “either we move towards a real peace or see an escalation in the situation”. It is important to note that during the summit, King Abdullah denounced the United States-led occupation of Iraq.

 

Official translation of the full text of a Saudi-inspired peace plan adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut, 2002.

The Arab Peace Initiative

The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session,

Reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government,

Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel,

Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:

1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.

2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:

I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

Full Israeli withdrawal should be carried out over X months while an international presence is gradually introduced in the area, as required. An international force [under the leadership of X] will oversee the withdrawal and assist in the implementation of the security arrangements set forth in the Agreement. An international force will also be introduced for border security in Palestine (Jordan Valley and the crossings).

II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

The Parties shall recognize the [rights] [right of return] [right to return to their homeland] of Palestinian refugees under UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242[, and the Arab Peace Initiative (Article 2.ii.)]. The number and modalities of return shall be agreed between the Parties [with consideration to maintaining the demographic balance in Israel] [consistent with the two-state solution].

Refugees will have the right to choose between:

  •  return to the state of Palestine
  •  return to the state of Israel
  •  return to areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine
  •  remain in the host states, subject to the latter’s decision
  •  resettle in third countries, subject to the latter’s decision

Israel will compensate the refugees for their refugeehood and for loss of property.

The Parties recognize the right of states that have hosted Palestinian refugees to compensation.

An International Commission shall oversee the implementation of the refugee provision of the permanent status agreement.

III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The borders between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel will be the June 4th 1967 Armistice Line, though the two sides may agree to minor, reciprocal, and equal boundary rectifications that do not affect, among other things, territorial contiguity. The Palestinian and Israeli sides shall have no territorial claims beyond the June 4, 1967 borders.  These borders will be the permanent boundaries between the two states.

There will be a permanent territorial corridor established between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip sections of the state of Palestine.

The maritime boundaries between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine will be agreed, in accordance with international law, and respecting the full sovereign rights of each state.

East Jerusalem will become the capital of the state of Palestine and West Jerusalem will become the capital of the State of Israel.

Jerusalem, which is venerated by the three monotheistic religions, will remain open to all peoples.

The Palestinian side will transfer sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall section of the Western Wall in East Jerusalem to Israel, while retaining sovereignty over the remainder of the Old City.

Joint water resource will be allocated based on international law.

Palestine will be a sovereign independent state with limited, defensive armament and a strong internal security force with ground, air and maritime elements.

Neither Palestine nor Israel will enter into military alliances against each other, or allow their territory to be used for military operations against each other.

Israel may maintain [one] early warning station on Palestinian territory on a lease basis for a [limited duration / X years], but not exceeding [X years], with a Palestinian [international] liaison presence.

Palestine will exercise full sovereignty over its airspace. With respect to civil aviation, Palestine and Israel recognize the application of multilateral aviation agreements to which they are party, particularly the Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944 (the Chicago Convention), and the International Air Services Transit Agreement, 1944.

Palestine and Israel will establish [technical / joint] coordination mechanisms as necessary over air traffic control and military use of airspace on the basis of equality and reciprocity.

3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:

I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

The implementation of the permanent status agreement  will signal the end of the Palestinian refugee status and with it the end of claims.

Following the end of conflict, the Arab states and Israel will based their security relations on cooperation, mutual trust and good-neighborly relations, and the protection of their common interests. All parties will work to promote a regional security regime, including cooperation in fighting terrorism.

II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.

5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.

6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.

7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

LMJS

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