London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Arab leaders support Palestine’s refusal to recognize the “Jewish identity” of the Israeli state, the final statement issued against the backdrop of the 25th Arab Summit in Kuwait announced on Wednesday.
The statement came at the end of a two-day Arab League summit held in Kuwait City during which Arab states discussed the Palestinian–Israeli peace process, inter-Arab tensions and the Syrian conflict.
The Kuwait Declaration’s rejection of recognizing the “Jewish identity” of Israel places the Palestinian–Israeli peace process in jeopardy on the same day US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jordan ahead of talks with both Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli leaders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that there can be no peace without a Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewish idenitity.
“We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tensions in the Middle East,” the Kuwait Declaration said. “We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
The Kuwait Declaration also expressed “the full rejection of the continuation of settlement building, the Judaization of Jerusalem, attacks against the Islamic and Christian shrines [of Jerusalem], as well as changing the city’s demographic and geographic status, considering such measures as invalid according to international law, the Geneva Convention and the Hague Agreement on protecting cultural properties.”
The Arab leaders also called for respect for Palestine’s national legitimacy under Mahmoud Abbas, hailing his efforts at Palestinian reconciliation. The statement confirmed that “Palestinian national reconciliation represents the real guarantee for the Palestinian people to achieve its ambitions and its national independence,” highlighting the Doha Declaration that calls for the formation of an independent national transitional government to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections.
The Kuwait Declaration was read out by Kuwait Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled Al-Jarallah at the conclusion of the Kuwait Summit on Wednesday. The declaration highlighted the importance of bolstering inter-Arab ties, particularly against the backdrop of recent tensions within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over the Muslim Brotherhood, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE recalling their ambassadors from Qatar in order “to protect their security and stability” over the issue.
Speaking at the Brussels Forum ahead of the Kuwait summit, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah categorically denied any differences with Saudi Arabia over the Syrian crisis, highlighting Qatari–Saudi ties. He said: “Good relations with Saudi Arabia are strategically important for Qatar. Saudi Arabia is our strategic depth.”
Arab leaders pledged to “put an end to the Arab rifts through constructive dialogue and transparency,” confirming that “Arab–Arab ties that are based on the foundation of Arab solidarity are the best way to achieve the ambitions of the Arab peoples.”
The Arab Summit also discussed the more than three-year-old Syrian conflict, with Saudi Arabia calling for the Syrian National Coalition to be granted the vacant Syrian seat at the summit.
The Arab League asserted their “full solidarity with the Syrian people” in the Kuwait Declaration, “affirming the Syrian people’s legitimate right for freedom, democracy, justice and equality and the establishment of a system of state where all Syrian people enjoy the right to participate in all its institutions without discrimination.”
The Arab leaders also called on the Assad regime “to immediately halt all military actions against the Syrian people and put an end to the bloodshed, while strongly denouncing the mass killings carried out by the Syrian troops against the innocent people, including the use of internationally proscribed weapons.”
The Arab League reiterated their commitment to the Geneva Communiqué on Syria, which calls for a “peaceful transition of power for reconstructing the state and achieving national unity.”