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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Behind the scenes at the Arab Summit

The Al Arab al-Youm newspaper published a fascinating exchange between Arab leaders behind closed doors at the Arab Summit in Libya late last month. It was reproduced by the Palestine Press Agency.

According to the reports, Mahmoud Abbas listed his demands for Arab support for his positions: use the UN to pressure Israel, support PalArab claims to Jerusalem ("there is no meaning to a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital"), keep pressuring the US not to allow any Israeli building in Jerusalem, 1967 borders "with slight exchange of land," rejecting any "cosmetic" Israeli moves like moving the separation fence or releasing prisoners, lift the "siege" of Gaza, force Hamas to reconcile with Fatah, and others.

Moammar Gaddafi responded with a demand that the Arab world declare the peace process dead and that they support Palestinian Arab armed resistance - without overt military support of Arab regimes. He also called for Syria to take the Golan back by force.

The Emir of Kuwait said that this was not a wise idea, in light of the diplomatic crisis between Israel and the US, saying that at the very time that the differences between Israel and America are at their widest, to go back to a military option would play into Netanyahu's hands.

The Syrian delegation initially said that they support the option of armed resistance as well, and saif that they have always supported Palestinian Arab military resistance.

Abbas responded that the "popular resistance" (with Palestinian Arabs throwing boulders) will continue as they occur in Nilin and Bilin every week, as he believes that such "resistance" is legal under international law, but the Palestinian Arab people are not yet at a stage that would allow them to use armed resistance, as the second intifada destroyed their ability to fight with weapons.

Abbas also called for a resumption of the official Arab boycott of Israel. He also challenged Gaddafi to say that if he supports a resolution that calls for Palestinian Arab armed resistance, he must also call for one that insists on Arab support for military action to recapture the Golan as well as Lebanese territory allegedly held by Israel. Gaddafi replied that he would send his tanks and planes to Syria to help "liberate" the Golan.

This then forced Syria's Bashir Assad to make a statement that surprised the audience saying that "peace is our choice, war is not our choice."