The Secretariat of the League of Arab States issued a statement today declaring that its 22 members, meeting in Cairo in an emergency session at permanent representative level, reject the United States’ new policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it a threat to security and stability in the Middle East. U.S. President George W. Bush had announced acceptance of the idea that while withdrawing from Gaza, Israel retain parts of the occupied West Bank and that Palestinian refugees give up hope of regaining their homes in what is now Israel. The Arab League called on the United States to do what is necessary to prevent the collapse of the principles of the peace process; reiterated its position that only the Palestinians can renounce their right of return, which is enshrined in UN resolutions, and that Israel should withdraw to its pre-1967 borders; and re-affirmed commitment to the 2002 peace initiative that offered Israel peace and normal relations with all Arab countries in return for withdrawal.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdulrahman bin Hamad Alatiyyah yesterday described the statements at a joint press conference by President Bush and Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon as regrettable, and in disregard of UN resolutions and previously-signed agreements. He reiterated that ending Israel’s occupation of the Arab territories it has usurped since 1967 and enabling the Palestinian people to establish their rightful independent state on their national territory with Al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital, in accordance with UN resolutions, the Arab peace initiative, and the ‘roadmap’, is the only way to achieve a comprehensive, permanent and just peace in the region.