Palestinians relinquish Arab League chair over ‘rushed’ normalization with Israel

Sept. 22 (UPI) — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday announced it will relinquish its role as temporary chair of the current session of the Arab League.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the governing body would remain part of the Arab League but would give up its right to preside over chair meetings for the next six months after the League refused to condemn Arab countries’ normalization of relations with Israel.

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“I inform you today that the State of Palestine is relinquishing its chairmanship on this accursed round of meetings,” al-Maliki said on Tuesday. “Palestine refuses to record in its history that it presided over the moral degeneracy that was revealed in the last meeting … and the normalization steps that followed it, which were in essence a rejection of the work we did between the walls of the Arab League.”

The decision came after leaders from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formally normalized relations with Israel in a deal brokered with assistance from the United States last week.

“Since the decision to rush after [normalization] was taken in Washington, it does not serve any purpose to exert any more effort to sway [the Arab League] against normalization particularly since they are not the decision-makers, regretfully,” said al-Maliki.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the denial of the resolution did not impact the commitment of the Arab states to uphold the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers full normalization between Israel and Arab states with the condition of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“The Arab consensus on Palestine has not changed,” he said. “Now, it’s true that there is an Arab dispute over some of the concepts related to peace with Israel.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for a review of Palestinian membership on Tuesday after the resolution failed, but al-Maliki said it will not withdraw from the Arab League because it would “create a vacuum and can generate different scenarios that we do not need at this sensitive stage.”

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