Disunited Arab chiefs cling to 'land for peace'

Cairo summit: Leaders fear Oslo accord is dissolving in face of Netanyahu's intransigence

No words, it seems, can sum up the hypocrisy that now surrounds the ashes of the Middle East "peace process".

There were the Arabs at their Cairo summit yesterday, solemnly pleading for a continuation of the American-brokered land-for-peace "process" and warning that they might have second thoughts if Israel did not honour its commitments. And there were the Israelis, whose new Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has already vetoed the agreed land-for-peace formula, claiming that the Arab summit's final communique represented a threat to peace.

"For the process to continue successfully and productively this threat [to Israeli security] must be removed," Mr Netanyahu said in a prepared speech. "This is the most elementary, fundamental requirement for talks about coexistence and peace." He went on to say that the peace process "cannot be made hostage to other prior conditions" - a reference to the Arab demands that the new government agree to trade more land for peace.

What the Cairo communique actually said was that the Arabs remained committed to the process of peace on which they had embarked at Madrid in 1991: total Israeli withdrawal for total peace based on UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425, along with an end to Jewish settlements on Arab land and a "just and comprehensive peace" that would give Palestinians a state and a capital in Jerusalem. The Arabs "would have to reconsider their steps towards Israel in the framework of the peace process" if there was any Israeli abandonment of commitments.

"What do you expect Arabs to do? What do you expect Palestinians to do?" an exasperated President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said after the summit ended. "Much more violence? Much more terrorism?"

The truth, as many Arab journalists were quick to point out, is that the Arab nations (all, apparently, bar Jordan) believe that the five years of negotiations with Israel and the Oslo agreement are dissolving in the heat generated by Mr Netanyahu's three "Nos" - no to a withdrawal from Golan, no to a Palestinian state and no to a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. We still want peace, the Arabs were saying yesterday, but do not blame us when the pot boils over.

They will be blamed, but that is another story. What mattered yesterday was the text of their final communique and the long, sometimes furious arguments which produced it. None of them objected to the prelude, which called upon the rest of the world to ensure Israel kept to its side of the bargain; there was much talk of commitments, agreements, vows and "international legality" - the latter to prevent the construction of yet more Jewish settlements on Arab land. Then came the paragraphs which proved how disunited the Arabs still are.

King Hussein of Jordan had given an address of such fury that other delegates dubbed it "Netanyahu's speech"; he attacked "terrorism" in all its forms, adding - in a clear attack on Syria - that "we must confront the problem of cross-border terrorism, through condemnation, pursuit, and through the liquidation of pockets of terrorism, wherever their dens may be ... and whoever may be their organisers or victims". Jordan says Syria tried to send saboteurs across the Jordanian-Syrian border and sympathises with Turkey's complaints of Syrian support for Kurdish guerrillas. But the King's words also appeared to condone Israel's April assault on Hizbollah guerrillas which led to the massacre at Qana.

The Syrians were incensed, and their Foreign Minister, Farouk al-Sharah, bitterly condemned the King's speech in a private talk later with his Jordanian opposite number.

But when the King and President Hafez al-Assad of Syria later met alone Mr Assad apparently persuaded King Hussein that it was more important to present a united front to Israel's new government than give Israel ammunition to attack an Arab neighbour. This led to the communique's statement that "while the Arab leaders condemn attempts to label legitimate national resisters terrorists, they condemn all kinds of terrorist and destructive acts ... and express support ... for efforts to hold an international conference on terrorism".

Attempts by King Hussein to rouse the Gulf Arabs against Iran - and thus indirectly against Iran's Syrian ally - were softened to say that "Iran should respect the sovereignty of Bahrain and stop any destructive acts aimed at Bahrain" and should end its occupation of three Emirates islands. Syria, which wanted a condemnation of Turkey, not only for its military agreement with Israel but for its tampering with the waters of the Euphrates, had to be satisfied with "concern" about the Turkish-Israeli pact and a hopeless request to Turkey to "reconsider" its new agreement "so as not to affect the security of Arab states".

Having largely got what he wanted in the communique, President Assad chose not to say a word at the summit. But President Mubarak expressed his delight at what he considered a Jordanian-Syrian rapprochement and an invitation to the PLO's Yasser Arafat by Mr Assad to visit Damascus, a meeting of advantage to both sides.

Saddam Hussein got short shrift. The Saudis included their wish for the future unity of Iraq - they do not want a new Shia state on their northern frontier - and the Kuwaitis won a demand for full Iraqi compliance with the UN and the return of all Kuwaiti prisoners from Iraq.

But it was Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who made the most pertinent if ironic remark about Mr Netanyahu at the summit's end. "We should thank him for bringing us together," he said. "Without him, there could have been no such summit."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment