Arab League rejects Trump's Israel policies at annual summit

Iraq's President Barham Salih left walks next of his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi right as they review the honor guard upon his arrival at Tunis Carthage international airport to attend the Arab Summit in Tunis Tunisia Saturday March 30

Iraq's President Barham Salih left walks next of his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi right as they review the honor guard upon his arrival at Tunis Carthage international airport to attend the Arab Summit in Tunis Tunisia Saturday March 30

The leaders of Sudan and Algeria were not at Sunday's meeting as both nations have been roiled by anti-government protests.

The Arab League summit in Tunisia is expected to see its 22 nations unite against destabilising unrest in the region and provide a window on members' views on the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli conflict weeks before the United States unveils its so-called "deal of the century" to resolve the issue.

He said Iran had "breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles".

Jordan's King Abdullah II ducked the issue of the Golan Heights, but in his remarks said the issue of the "Palestinian cause" must remain the prime objective of the Arab people.

Iraq's President Barham Salih, left, walks next of his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi, right, as they review the honor guard upon his arrival at Tunis-Carthage worldwide airport to attend the Arab Summit, in Tunis, Tunisia, Saturday, March 30, 2019.

The global community, including the United States, largely shared that position until Trump upended decades of US policy by moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem previous year and recognizing Israel's 1981 annexation of the strategic Golan plateau earlier this month.

They also agreed to back Syria's right to regain Golan and Lebanon's right to the Shebaa farms, a small strip of land next to the Golan claimed by Beirut, he tweeted.

That's in part because regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cultivated close ties with the Trump administration, viewing it as a key ally against their main rival, Iran. Damascus has been suspended from the League since 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of its civil war.

There were also criticism of Turkey and Iran during the Tunis summit.

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"It is high time the Arab bloodletting has stopped", Sisi said.

The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus past year, and other Arab states have expressed support for restoring relations.

Arab leaders, gathering at summit in Tunis, have been under popular pressure to reject Washington's action, while they also grapple with regional differences, including a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, splits over Iran's regional influence, the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan. The UAE sent the lesser-known Fujairah ruler Hamad bin Mohammed al-Sharqi rather than the powerful Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed or Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

Summit spokesman Mahmoud Al-Khmeiry had said before the summit that Arab states would also repeat a call offering peace with Israel in exchange for occupied Arab lands and would reject any initiative not in line with United Nations resolutions.

Regional and worldwide stability should come through "a just and comprehensive settlement that includes the rights of the Palestinian people and leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital", Mr Essebsi said.

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

In a unusual turn of events, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was reported to have left the summit abruptly. No reason was given for his departure.

But Qatar's emir left the summit after the opening session and did not attend the closed-door meeting later in the day, according to Qatar's state-run news agency.

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