Abbas: Netanyahu's Election Win Proves Israel Is No Partner for Peace

Speaking at Arab League summit, the Palestinian leader said that the Palestinians were reevaluating diplomatic, economic and security relations with Israel.

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 28, 2015.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 28, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an Arab League summit on Saturday that the Israeli election results prove that Israel is no partner for peace.

The Palestinians could not be accused of taking unilateral steps international institutions such as the United Nations when faced with Israeli intransigence, Abbas told an assembly of Arab leaders in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh. Abbas also demanded international support and protection from the Arab League for Palestinan action in the international arena, stressing that the situation vis-a-vis Israel can not remain as is.

The Palestinians welcomed a decision made Friday by Arab League foreign ministers that a League delegation will travel to Washington to speak to members of the U.S. Congress and Senate about the Arab League Peace Initiative - originally proposed in 2002 - and the urgency of adopting a two-state solution, Abbas said.

Abbas said in his speech that on April 1, the Palestinians' membership to the International Criminal Court will go into effect, three months after they signed the Rome Statute.

Abbas added that "the election results point to the fact that there is no Israeli partner for peace," and that the Palestinians were re-evaluating their diplomatic, economic and security cooperation with Israel, in accordance with a recent descision of the PLO Central Council.

"We have decided to reevaluate our relationship with Israel in everything related to economic, diplomatic and security ties with Israel, and we intend to have elections as soon as possible in the West Bank and Gaza," he told the summit.

Abbas also called on Arab states to put into action a 2012 pledge to provide the Palestinian Authority with a monthly financial safety net of $100 million.

The leader also warned about the situation in East Jerusalem, saying that Israel had almost completely separated it from the West Bank. He called for Arab leaders to support the Palestinians with visits to East Jerusalem. He said this was a duty, and insisted that such visits would not constitute normalization with Israel, but support for the Palestinians.

Regarding Gaza, Abbas told the gathered leaders that Hamas on one hand and Israel on the other were putting up obstacles to rehabilitating the Gaza Strip, which was devastated last summer during 50 days of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. He called on the Arab League to reject and act against Israeli plans to establish a state in Gaza and autonomy in the West Bank.

Leaders at the summit on Saturday acknowledged that growing unrest and radicalism in the region pose a serious threat to their countries' stability.

In opening remarks at the conference, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said the spread of violent militancy threatens Arab countries with fragmentation. "This challenge to the identity of the Arab nation brings along another challenge bearing on this nation's direct security," he told the gathering that started on Saturday.

Sissi said that Cairo backed calls for a unified Arab force to confront regional security threats - a proposal that will be voted on during the summit - and also said Egypt's participation in a military campaign against Shi'ite Houthi militias in Yemen, which has been led by Saudi Arabia, aimed to "preserve Yemen's unity and the peace of its territories."

The gathering comes two days after the Saudi Arabia and Sunni fellow Arab countries, including Egypt, unleashed an air campaign in Yemen targeting Shi'ite Houthi rebels, believed to be backed by Shi'ite Iran.

Saudi King Salman vowed on Saturday to press ahead with the campaign until stability and security are restored to the impoverished country, which borders oil-wealthy Saudi Arabia.

"The Houthis' agression poses a great pose to the security of the region," Salman told the meeting.

His vow to continue the military action was welcomed by Yemeni President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi , who has been locked in a power struggle with the Houthis in recent months.

"Operation Decisive Storm must continue until the gang of the Houthis surrender," Hadi said, referring to the Saudi-led campaign. "This operation comes to protect the Yemeni people."

Territorial expansion by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria as well as the inter-militia fighting in Libya are high on the agenda of the meeting.

In opening remarks to the summit, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah called for a "new course of action" to tackle the regional crises. "The situation is getting worse and more complicated," he said. He described as a "humanitarian disaster" the civil war in Syria now in its fifth year.

Syria's seat at the summit was left vacant in compliance with a 2011 Arab League decision to suspend the country's membership in the 22-strong regional bloc in protest against President Bashar Assad's crackdown on a pro-democracy
uprising. Fourteen Arab heads of state are attending the summit.

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