Arab League foreign ministers reject Trump peace plan

Also on Saturday reports on major Israeli television networks said CIA torture queen Gina Haspel had secretly visited Ramallah in recent days and met with Palestinian officials.

The foreign ministers of the member state of the Arab League unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday rejecting the Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, and said that “it does not satisfy the minimum of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

Why it matters: The Trump administration was counting on a coalition of Arab countries it has built over the last several years to prevent such a resolution and press the Palestinians to go back to the table. Those efforts did not materialize.

The state of play: The Arab League foreign ministers convened on Saturday in Cairo at the request of the Palestinians to discuss the Trump plan. The closing statement, which passed in consensus between all member states, said the U.S. plan contradicts the principles of the peace process and United Nations resolutions.

The statement also explained that Arab countries will not engage with the U.S. on the plan and will not cooperate with the Trump administration in its implementation.

What they’re saying: The Arab League foreign ministers’ statement said the Arab peace initiative is the basis for any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which must include a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The statement also warned Israel not to annex any part of the West Bank and underscored that the U.S. and Israel will be responsible for the consequences of such moves.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech at the meeting rejected the Trump peace plan and stressed he “will not go down in history as the one who sold out Jerusalem.”

  • He said President Trump tried to reach him through the CIA the week leading up to the unveiling of the peace plan, but Abbas refused to take the calls and even refused to get a copy of the plan in advance.
  • He said that he told the U.S. through the CIA and Israel by letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if the plan is implemented, there will be no relations between the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. and Israel, including security ties.
  • Abbas added the Palestinians will not accept the Trump administration as the sole mediator in peace talks with Israel, and said he would present a Palestinian peace plan soon — likely in a speech at the United Nations Security Council meeting in two weeks.

But, but, but: At Saturday’s meeting, Arab foreign ministers who spoke after Abbas backed the Palestinian position, but almost all refrained from criticizing the Trump administration.

  • The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Morocco went further than refusing to criticize the Trump plan, giving positive statements about it while suggesting it could be a basis for talks, but not a final solution.

“The United States is appreciative of the positive remarks from many Arab countries made with regard to our Vision for Peace today at the Arab League meeting in Cairo. 

It is only by having a willingness to try a new approach that we will make a breakthrough in a conflict that has left the Palestinian people to suffer for decades.

Past Arab League resolutions have placated Palestinian leadership and not led to peace or progress and it is important to try a new approach or the Palestinian peoples’ fate will not change.”

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WikiLeaks: Israel Aimed to Keep Gaza Economy on Brink of Collapse

During the 1948 war that triggered Israel’s creation, referred to as the Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ by Palestinians, at least 700,000 Palestinians that were expelled from their villages took refuge in nearby countries, or other Palestinian provinces.

However, it is estimated that around 100,000 Palestinians from the villages directly targeted by Israeli militias fled to other parts of Palestine, such as Gaza, Beersheba, Haifa, Nazareth, Nablus, Jaffa and Bethlehem.

Cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv says Israeli officials wanted Gaza’s economy ‘functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.’

Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.

Three cables cited by the Aftenposten newspaper, which has said it has all 250,000 U.S. cables leaked to WikiLeaks, showed that Israel kept the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on its internationally criticized blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The territory, home to 1.3 million Palestinians, is democratically elected Hamas group, which is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize the usurper Israel on Palestine land, insist on resistance and self defense, or accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

“As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge,” one of the cables read.

Israel wanted the coastal territory’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis”, according to the Nov. 3, 2008 cable.

In a speech in January 2008, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to spell out that policy, which has since been eased in the wake of an international outcry over a deadly Israeli raid last May on a Turkish aid ship trying to break the blockade.

“We will not harm the supply of food for children, medicine for those who need it and fuel for institutions that save lives,” Olmert said at the time.

Gaza is Flooded with Sewage from Israel

“But there is no justification for demanding we allow residents of Gaza to live normal lives while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and courtyards (at southern Israel),” he added.

Israel says it has significantly relaxed the blockade since May, with dozens of truckloads of goods entering the territory daily. Aid organizations have said shipments should be increased further.

Palestinians say impoverished Gaza remains effectively a “prison” sealed off by Israel, and have called for an opening to allow normal trade and other links with the world.