Arab states seek UN recognition of Palestinian state

AMMAN (Jordan) • Arab states will soon embark on a diplomatic drive to persuade the United Nations to recognise a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Six Arab foreign ministers met in Amman on Saturday to follow up on earlier decisions taken by the Arab League to counter United States President Donald Trump's move last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision that overturned decades of US policy on the Middle East.

A committee headed by Jordan, with representatives from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine, was set up after an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo shortly after Mr Trump's decision. The committee called on Washington to abandon its decision.

The Arab League said at the time that the move would spur violence throughout the region and it described Mr Trump's announcement as a "dangerous violation of international law" which had no legal impact.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the ministers would recommend a series of moves to a full ministerial meeting of the Arab League due later this month. "We will confront the decision by seeking a (UN) resolution, an international one, to recognise a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital," he said.

He did not elaborate on the timing of the diplomatic moves or say whether he was referring to a UN Security Council or General Assembly resolution.

Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the ministerial meeting would also discuss Washington's role in future Arab-Israeli peacemaking, which members states said was now jeopardised by what they see as US bias towards Israel.

"We want to lessen any losses on the Palestinian side and lessen the Israeli gains," he said.

Mr Trump's recognition of Jerusalem has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, which say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967, to be occupied territory.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday called for the closure of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, which Israel said was biased against the country.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Arab states seek UN recognition of Palestinian state'. Print Edition | Subscribe