Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, has said that the country has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings as it condemned any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Describing it as dishonourable, Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
The Palestinians, earlier this month, failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Although Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency.
In his remark, however, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain; Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel, concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, had been informed of the decision by Palestine.
In the meantime, the Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de-facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, however, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.