Feb 1, 2020 - World

Arab League foreign ministers reject Trump peace plan

Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa arrives to attend an Arab League emergency meeting discussing the US Middle East peace plan, Cairo, Feb. 1. Photo: Khaled Desouki/Contributor/Getty Images

The foreign ministers of the member states of the Arab League unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday rejecting the Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and said that "it does not satisfy the minimum of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people."

Why it matters: The Trump administration was counting on a coalition of Arab countries it has built over the last several years to prevent such a resolution and press the Palestinians to go back to the table. Those efforts did not materialize.

The state of play: The Arab League foreign ministers convened on Saturday in Cairo at the request of the Palestinians to discuss the Trump plan. The closing statement, which passed in consensus between all member states, said the U.S. plan contradicts the principles of the peace process and UN resolutions. The statement also explained that Arab countries will not engage with the U.S. on the plan and will not cooperate with the Trump administration in its implementation.

What they're saying: The Arab League foreign ministers' statement said the Arab peace initiative is the basis for any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which must include a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. The statement also warned Israel not to annex any part of the West Bank and underscored that the U.S. and Israel will be responsible for the consequences of such moves.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech at the meeting rejected the Trump peace plan and stressed he "will not go down in history as the one who sold out Jerusalem."

  • He said President Trump tried to reach him through the CIA the week leading up to the unveiling of the peace plan, but Abbas refused to take the calls and even refused to get a copy of the plan in advance.
  • He said that he told the U.S. through the CIA and Israel by letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if the plan is implemented, there will be no relations between the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. and Israel, including security ties.
  • Abbas added the Palestinians will not accept the Trump administration as the sole mediator in peace talks with Israel, and he said he would present a Palestinian peace plan soon — likely in a speech at the UN Security Council meeting in two weeks.

But, but, but: At Saturday's meeting, Arab foreign ministers who spoke after Abbas backed the Palestinian position, but almost all refrained from criticizing the Trump administration.

  • The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Morocco went further than refusing to criticize the Trump plan, giving positive statements about it while suggesting it could be a basis for talks, but not a final solution.
"The United States is appreciative of the positive remarks from many Arab countries made with regard to our Vision for Peace today at the Arab League meeting in Cairo. It is only by having a willingness to try a new approach that we will make a breakthrough in a conflict that has left the Palestinian people to suffer for decades. Past Arab League resolutions have placated Palestinian leadership and not led to peace or progress and it is important to try a new approach or the Palestinian peoples' fate will not change."
— A senior U.S. official told me

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