Arab League concludes summit, adopts Jeddah Declaration

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The Arab League concluded its 32nd summit by adopting the Jeddah Declaration, reaffirming the need for unity to achieve security and stability.

The summit, which discussed various topics, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and developments in Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon, convened in Jeddah and saw Syria’s participation for the first time in over a decade.

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On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the members reaffirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause and reiterated Palestine’s right “to absolute authority over all territories occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem.”

The members also voiced the importance of “activating the Arab Peace Initiative,” which the Kingdom proposed and the Arab League endorsed at the Beirut summit in 2002.

Israel-Palestinian violence has been intensifying for months, with frequent Israeli military raids and settler violence in the West Bank amid a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israelis. Since January, more than 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in the West Bank and Israel.

The bloc welcomed Syria’s return to the Arab League following years of isolation and voiced hope that this move would contribute “to Syria’s stability and unity.”

“[We] must intensify Arab efforts to help Syria resolve its crisis,” the declaration said.

During a press conference at the end of the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom would hold discussions with their Western partners regarding ties with Syria. Washington and Europe have been outspoken critics of the Arab League’s decision to normalize relations with the Assad regime.

The 22-member bloc suspended Syria in November 2011 over the regime’s deadly crackdown on protests, which spiraled into a conflict that has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.

Regarding the situation in Sudan, where fighting has raged between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since April 15, the declaration rejected “foreign interferences that inflame the conflict and threaten regional security and stability.” The Arab League urged dialogue and unity among the warring sides.

The conflict has displaced an estimated 843,000 people within Sudan and forced around 250,000 to flee to neighboring countries, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday. Last week, US-Saudi mediated talks between the two sides in Jeddah made a slight breakthrough after signing an agreement to protect Sudanese civilians.

During the press conference, Prince Faisal said Riyadh and Washington were continuing to work together to get the warring sides to stop the violence. The top Saudi diplomat called on all sides to immediately stop the fighting and resume dialogue; however, he noted it was too early to discuss a breakthrough.

As for Yemen, the Arab League reaffirmed support for all international and regional efforts that aim to reach a political solution to the yearslong war.

The war in Yemen has also killed tens of thousands of people and left millions dependent on international aid. A UN-brokered ceasefire that started in April 2022 has sharply reduced casualties. The truce expired in October, but fighting has largely remained on hold.

On Lebanon, the Arab states urged authorities to resume efforts to elect a president, form a cabinet “as soon as possible,” and carry out economic reforms to overcome the current crisis.

Lebanon has been mired since 2019 in an economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the worst in modern history. A caretaker cabinet with limited powers has been at the helm since May last year after legislative polls gave no side a clear majority to elect a new president.

The bloc also voiced rejected “foreign interferences” in Arab countries’ internal affairs.

“[We] completely reject supporting the formation of armed militias… [and warn] that internal military conflicts will only aggravate people’s suffering,” the statement read.

The declaration also said that during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the Arab Summit – which was handed over earlier by Algeria – the Kingdom will strengthen joint Arab action in various cultural, economic, social and environmental sectors.

These initiatives include teaching the Arabic language to non-native speakers, which targets the children of second and third-generation Arab immigrants to enhance communication between Arab countries and the rest of the world.

Another initiative aims to sustain the supply chains of basic food commodities for Arab countries. It will be implemented using several measures, which include providing investment opportunities with economic and financial feasibility and contributing to achieving food security for the Arab world.

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