Arab leaders whose summit begins in Kuwait Tuesday, March 25, are set to carry hard-line ultimatums for the US-sponsored Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as a means of derailing US Secretary of State John Kerry’s stubborn effort for a peace accord, and as a red flag for President Barack Obama three days before he lands in Riyadh..
debkafile’s Middle East sources report the Arab League summit’s two-day agenda includes a veto on recognizing Israel as the Jewish national state,a resolution that will be binding on all members including Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Another resolution would mandate the proclamation of all parts of East Jerusalem, including Al Quds al Sharif (Temple Mount) and the entire Old City of Jerusalem, the location of the shrines of three faiths, as the capital of a Palestinian state. This is diametrically opposed to US and Israeli positions.
Another ultimatum the Arab leaders propose to issue would halt Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Jerusalem, freeze development and ultimately dismantle all traces of a Jewish presence in a future Palestinian state.
Yet another demand will be for “the immediate release of all the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails” – by which they mean all Palestinians serving time after being convicted of terrorist crimes, including Israeli Arabs.
The special US envoy for the peace talks, Martin Indyk, spent the past week in a desperate bid to avert the passage of these extreme all-or-nothing demands by the Kuwait summit. He leaned hard on Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian leader to hold back from voting on these resolutions (which must be unanimous under the Arab League charter). He maintained that their impact would be inevitably to bury yet another Israel-Palestinian peace track.
Indyk’s effort was in vain. He was also disappointed by the pointed lack of support he received from Anne Patterson, Assistant US Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and former ambassador to Cairo, where she became a fervent supporter of an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood – an organization which most Arab League leaders meeting in Kuwait view as a threat to their stability. For Patterson, Indyk is an outsider.
The radical stance the Arab rulers have adopted on Mid East peacemaking is designed to warn the US president to expect a hard time in his talks with Saudi leaders in Riyadh. A large group of Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait – is telling him through the vehicle of a hard line on Mid East peacemaking that they can be just as unyielding on other issues, starting with their vendetta against the Brotherhood.
That vendetta tops their agenda, although it is worded as a draft resolution calling for “a collective Arab position in the war on terror.” It was rated as important enough for the conference to choose Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour to address the opening session of the conference with a speech devoted to the subject of “terrorism.”
And indeed, Sunday, March 23, just ahead of the Arab League summit, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood adherents to death for attacking government centers and killing soldiers and police officers.
It is more than likely that the Egyptian strongman, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, will allow the sentences to be executed as a brutal message to the Brothers not to expect any let-up in the war he is pursuing to stamp out their influence.
Another key item on the summit agenda revolves around the same issue. It is the campaign the same group of Arab leaders is waging against Qatar over its support for the Brotherhood. The Saudi, Egyptian, UAE, Bahraini and Kuwaiti governments have recalled their ambassadors from Doha; and Riyadh has threatened Qatar with a military, land and air blockade unless it withdraws this support and shuts down the Al Jazeera TV broadcasting station.