Arab leaders condemn US move on Golan Heights

Arab leaders, attending a summit in the Tunisian capital, have been grappling with regional splits over Iran's influence in the Middle East, a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, international pressure over the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan.
Arab leaders, attending a summit in the Tunisian capital, have been grappling with regional splits over Iran's influence in the Middle East, a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, international pressure over the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan.PHOTO: AFP

TUNIS • Arab leaders papered over long-running regional rivalries yesterday to condemn a United States move to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights and said stability in the Middle East hinged on creating a Palestinian state.

Arab leaders, attending a summit in the Tunisian capital, have been grappling with regional splits over Iran's influence in the Middle East, a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, international pressure over the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan.

But they found a reason to unite against US President Donald Trump's decision to sign a proclamation last week recognising the Golan Heights as part of Israel, which annexed the area in 1981 after capturing it from Syria in 1967.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz told Arab monarchs, presidents and prime ministers at the start of the summit his country "absolutely rejects" any measures that affect Syria's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said Arab leaders also needed to ensure the international community understood the importance of the Palestinian cause to Arab nations.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who addressed the meeting in Tunis, said any resolution to the Syrian conflict must guarantee the territorial integrity of Syria, "including the occupied Golan Heights".

The Tunis summit brought together the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the first time at the same gathering since 2017, when Riyadh and its allies imposed a political and economic boycott on Doha.

 
 
 

The leaders of Sudan and Algeria did not attend yesterday's meeting, with both nations roiled by anti-government protests.

Syria's seat at the summit was vacant.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Arab leaders condemn US move on Golan Heights'. Print Edition | Subscribe