Palestinian leaders won renewed Saudi support for Palestinian statehood on Wednesday, but failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn last month's normalisation deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
At a video conference of foreign ministers, the Palestinian leadership softened its own censure of the UAE for the U.S.-brokered August 13 accord, which is to be formalised at a signing ceremony at the White House next week, but to no avail.
"Discussions regarding this point were serious. It was comprehensive and took some time. But it did not lead in the end to agreement about the draft communique that was proposed by the Palestinian side," Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki told reporters.
Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE's move, fearing it would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
The Palestinian Ambassador to the Arab League Mohanad al-Aklook told the Maan news agency that the league had even rejected a proposal by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki to condemn the agreement on grounds that it is in disagreement with Arab consensus and the Arab Peace Initiative.
In televised comments at the meeting, Maliki referred to the accord as a "surprise", and an "earthquake" for Arab consensus, and voiced dismay at the failure to call an emergency Arab summit after the deal was announced.
But he avoided stronger words such as "betrayal" that Palestinian leaders had used in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. Maliki used tougher language against Israel, referring to "colonial and racist occupation", and accused the United States of blackmail, pressure and assault against Palestinians and some Arab states.
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Fatah official Hussein Al-Sheikh slammed the organization, saying the Arab League "gave birth to nothing" and regularly condemns Arab states while failing to condemn Israel. He said the decision shows that "money has triumphed over dignity" and that "Palestine stood still as it was and always will be, her own master, and the protector of its history."
Last month, secretary general of Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee Saeb Erekat said that if the Arab League doesn’t express a unified position against the deal, it would become irrelevant.
A Saudi statement on remarks made by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud included no direct mention of the normalization deal.
But the prince said Riyadh supported the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the borders in place before the 1967 Middle East war, with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to the statement.
The United States, Israel and the UAE have urged Palestinian leaders to re-engage with Israel. On a trip to the Emirates, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said Palestinians should not be "stuck in the past".