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Abbas Under Pressure to Boycott Libyan Summit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki waves his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in the Green Zone in Baghdad. (AFP)

Iraqi’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki waves his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in the Green Zone in Baghdad. (AFP)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, (Abu-Mazin), is seriously considering boycotting the Arab summit scheduled to be held in Tripoli, Libya, on 27 March. President Abbas is under intense pressure from within the Fatah Movement and the PLO Executive Committee to boycott the Arab summit in response to Libyan leader Col Muhammad Al-Gaddafi ‘s behavior during President Abbas’ visit to Libya on 21 February and his failure to receive him even though the visit, according to Palestinian sources, was in response to Libya’s insistence. An Informed Palestinian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that President Abbas stipulates for traveling to Libya to participate in the Arab summit that Colonel Al-Gaddafi call him, apologize for what happened during his visit to Libya, and make this public. The visit to the Libyan capital by Omar Suleiman, head of the Egyptian Intelligence Department, with a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Colonel Al-Gaddafi was in this context.

This Palestinian source said that what most angered the Palestinian party was Colonel Al-Gaddafi’s evasion to receive President Abbas, because the latter’s visit to Libya “was not on his agenda in the first place, but came as a result of Tripoli’s insistence that he visited.” He added: “The Libyans had been urging President Abbas to visit Tripoli since his visit to Moscow early in February, but eventually Colonel Al-Gaddafi refused or evaded receiving him.”

According to this source, who asked not to be identified, Al-Gaddafi took this position to express his anger at President Abbas’ stand on the issue of Palestinian reconciliation and his refusal to take the issue to the Arab summit in Libya. The source said: “Colonel Al-Gaddafi had hoped that the Arab summit, from which a number of Arab leaders were expected to absent themselves, would discuss hot button and important issues, such as Palestinian reconciliation, among others, instead of issuing an insignificant statement at the end of the summit. This source added that Colonel Al-Gaddafi wanted to use this issue for propaganda purposes. He added that Al-Gaddafi wanted two things: First, a declaration by the Arab summit rejecting US policy, which is not possible and, second, to achieve inter-Palestinian reconciliation on Libyan territories so that he would be able to boast about succeeding in achieving what many other leaders failed to do for years.”

This source pointed out that President Abbas’s stand is clear on this issue: He refuses to take the reconciliation dossier out of Egypt’s hand, and he asserts that reconciliation would be achieved the moment Hamas signs the Egyptian reconciliation paper, which Fatah signed in Cairo in November.

It is to be recalled that President Abbas and his accompanying delegation arrived in Libya on 21 February en route to France and Belgium. According to this Palestinian source, President Abbas was accorded an official reception at the Tripoli Airport and was notified that Saif al-Islam Al-Gaddafi, Colonel Al-Gaddafi ‘s son, would be at the airport on his way to travel abroad, and desired to meet with him. President Abbas did meet with Saif al-Islam and the meeting was focused on the reconciliation issue and the Arab summit. At the meeting President Abbas reiterated his position on the reconciliation issue.

According to this source, Saif al-Islam Al-Gaddafi seems to have briefed his father on President Abbas’s stance, and so Colonel al-Gaddafi decided not to receive him. At the same time, Colonel Al-Gaddafi dispatched the secretary of protocol aboard a private plane to affirm to President Abbas that Colonel al-Gaddafi was out of town and would meet with him as soon as he returned to Triploid. He asked Abbas to postpone the appointment for two more hours. However, no meeting took place and more promises were made about a meeting to no avail. In the evening, Libyan Secretary of Foreign Affairs Musa Kusa held a banquet in honor of President Abbas and his accompanying delegation.

The following day, President Abbas met with Libyan Prime Minister Al-Mahmudi al-Baghdadi and, according to the Palestinian source, the meeting was positive and Al-Baghdadi promised to pay off the cost of treatment of the wounded of the Palestinian intifadah at Jordanian hospitals, which Colonel Al-Gaddafi had earlier announced he would pay off but did not. Al-Mahmudi promised to send a delegation to Jordan to settle this issue.