UN chief Antonio Guterres and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit attend a news conference in Tunis on Friday. Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters
TUNIS: Arab heads of state are expected to unite at a summit on Sunday to oppose a US decision to recognise Israel's annexation of Arab lands captured in 1967.They face a new challenge after President Donald Trump signed a proclamation last week recognising the Golan Heights as Israeli, less than four months after recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
EU representative Federica Mogherini attends the meeting to discuss the situation in Libya on Saturday. Fethi Belaid/AFPArab officials said the summit would be dominated by the Golan Heights and Palestinian demands for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, areas also occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said on Saturday Arab ministers had expressed support for a proposal to declare that the US move violated the UN charter against acquiring land by force.
They also agreed to back Syria's right to regain Golan and Lebanon's right to the Shebaa farms, a small strip of land next to the Golan claimed by Beirut, he tweeted.
Summit spokesman Mahmoud Al-Khmeiry said Arab leaders would repeat an Arab call for peace with Israel in exchange for occupied Arab lands and would reject any initiative not in line with UN resolutions.
“The summit would be dominated by the Golan Heights and Palestinian demands for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, areas also occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
Khmeiry appeared to be referring to a still-unannounced US peace plan by White House adviser Jared Kushner and Trump son-in-law that Palestinians have refused to discuss.
Trump's aides have said his moves have drawn a less severe reaction privately from Arab states than experts had predicted.
While opposition to Israel and its actions can unite the 22-member Arab League, Arab states remain divided over a range of other issues, including pro-democracy protests that have erupted in the region since 2011 and over Iran's Middle East influence.
Ibrahim Al Assaf, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia, said on Friday that Shi'ite Muslim rival Iran remained the biggest threat to the region.
The Tunis summit will be the first time the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attend the same gathering since 2017 when Riyadh and its allies imposed a political and economic boycott on Doha. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and cosying up to Iran, a charge Doha denies.
The leaders of Sudan and Algeria are not expected to attend, with both nations roiled by anti-government protests.
“Arab ministers had expressed support for a proposal to declare that the US move violated the UN charter against acquiring land by force.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's ailing, 82-year-old president who has ruled for 20 years, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in power for three decades and wanted by international prosecutors for alleged war crimes in his country's Darfur region, are both facing calls to step down.
Syria has been suspended from the Arab League since 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of the civil war. The League has said there was still no consensus to allow Syria's reinstatement.
The United Arab Emirates has expressed its deep regret and condemnation of the recognition by the United States of the Syrian Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory, describing it as a move that disrupts all efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East.
A black-and-white banner declaring a strike replaced the usually illuminated billboard over Gaza City's central Omar al-Mukhtar street.
King Salman told Arab monarchs, presidents and prime ministers at the meeting that his country "absolutely rejects" any measures affecting Syria's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The good news from the US is that for the first time, perhaps ever, 50 per cent of that country’s citizens support the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. A poll taken between February 1-10 by the reliable Gallup organisation reveals this dramatic shift in the position of the public in the country which has, for seven decades, been Israel’s faithful friend and, often as now, subservient servant as is the case under the Trump administration.
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