24th Arab Summit issues Doha Declaration

March 27, 2013

The 24th Arab League (AL) Summit concluded its deliberation in Doha today with the issuance of a final statement addressing a wide array of regional issues. The meeting included the participation of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and other leaders from across the Arab world. AL Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed bin Helli read the Doha Declaration to the gathering.

Regarding the Palestinian cause, the statement welcomed the initiative proposed by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to establish a $1 billion fund (with $250 million to be provided by Qatar) to finance projects that conserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and aid the Palestinian people suffering under the Israeli occupation. It called upon the international community to work towards the ultimate goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state based on the pre-June 1967 borders with East Al-Quds as its capital. Furthermore, it demanded that Israel withdraw from all occupied Arab land, including Syria’s Golan Heights, condemned illegal Israeli settlement activity, and rejected Israel’s characterization of itself as a Jewish state. The statement expressed the Arab League’s commitment to reconstructing the Gaza Strip and reiterated its call to end the blockade of the territory. Finally, it urged all Palestinian factions to work towards national unity and commended Egypt and Qatar for their tireless efforts to help foster reconciliation.

On the crisis in Syria, the statement condemned in the strongest terms the dangerous military escalation being pursued by the Assad regime, characterized by the use of heavy weapons, warplanes, and scud missiles to commit mass murder against the civilian population. It welcomed the assumption by the Syrian National Coalition of Syria’s seat in the Arab League and its various bodies. While emphasizing the importance of reaching a political solution, the statement maintained the right of every member state to provide aid – including military support – to the Syrian people to assist in their self-defense against the Assad regime. It urged all countries and international organizations to provide aid to help ease the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Addressing other Arab countries, the statement emphasized the importance of maintaining the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya, Yemen and Lebanon and rejected any form of foreign interference into the internal affairs of those countries. Furthermore, it condemned Iran for its continued occupation of three islands belonging to the UAE.

The declaration urged member countries to work towards economic integration by establishing a free-trade zone across the Arab world. It stressed the importance of carrying out political, economic, social, financial and trade reforms in order to create the conditions for the establishment of a joint Arab market. In particular, it called for the reform of the Arab League system and the passage of legislation guaranteeing the rights of Arab women in society.

Finally, the declaration touched on several additional topics. It expressed support for the national dialogue initiated by Bahraini King Hamad bin Eissa Al-Khalifa; stressed the importance of cooperation in countering terrorism and encouraging dialogue between civilizations; praised the signing of agreements between Djibouti and Eritrea in 2010 and between Sudan and South Sudan in 2012; called for greater Arab assistance for Darfur; condemned the treatment of the Muslim Rohingyas in Burma; and welcomed the ongoing political progress in Somalia.