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Arab Ministers Demand Trump Reversal   12/10 12:31

   Arab foreign ministers on Sunday demanded that the United States rescind 
President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, 
calling it a "grave" development that puts Washington on the same side as 
"occupation" and the violation of international law.

   CAIRO (AP) -- Arab foreign ministers on Sunday demanded that the United 
States rescind President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as 
Israel's capital, calling it a "grave" development that puts Washington on the 
same side as "occupation" and the violation of international law.

   In a resolution long on rhetoric but short on concrete actions, the 
ministers also called for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution 
condemning Trump's decision, but acknowledged that Washington would most likely 
veto it.

   If the U.S. vetoes the resolution, the Arabs would seek a similar resolution 
in the U.N. General Assembly, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki told 
a pre-dawn news conference in Cairo.

   A two-page resolution adopted by the emergency meeting, which began Saturday 
night, did not include any punitive actions against the United States, like a 
call for a boycott of American products or suspending or downgrading ties with 
Washington.

   It also appeared to fall short of matching the anger felt by Palestinians in 
the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which have seen three days of violent protests 
against Trump's decision.

   "We have taken a political decision not meant to reflect (what is going on 
in) the streets. Political work is responsible work," said Arab League chief 
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.  "Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years. This is an 
extended battle, a battle that will be escalated," he told the news conference.

   The resolution said the ministers would meet again within a month and held 
out the possibility that an emergency Arab summit would be held in Jordan to 
discuss Jerusalem.

   Trump's Dec. 6 announcement on Jerusalem, and his intention to move the U.S. 
Embassy there, triggered denunciations from around the world, with even close 
allies suggesting he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already 
volatile region. Jerusalem's status lies at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict, and Trump's move was widely perceived as siding with Israel. Even 
small crises over Jerusalem's status and that of the holy sites in its ancient 
Old City have sparked deadly bloodshed in the past.

   Arab diplomats said some Arab League members had wanted a more hard-line 
resolution, including punitive measures against countries that follow the U.S. 
example and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

   That was considered too radical by moderate Arab nations and eventually 
dropped, according to the diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because 
they were not authorized to brief the media.

   But Al-Maliki, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, sought to play down 
differences, saying the meeting produced "complete" unity among Arab nations.

   "There were differences in assessment when we moved to specifying measures," 
he said. "But in the end we agreed on gradually escalating measures."

   Both Aboul-Gheit and Al-Maliki said Arab nations remained committed to a 
2002 Arab peace plan that provides for recognition of Israel in exchange for 
lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

   "That plan is a key reference in the Middle East peace process," Al-Maliki 
told the news conference.

   Trump's decision, according to the Arab resolution, was "illegal" and a 
"dangerous violation" of international law. "It's a dangerous development that 
places the United States at a position of bias in favor of the occupation and 
the violation of international law and resolutions."

   Israel occupied and later annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 
Middle East war, declaring the holy city its eternal capital. Palestinians want 
that part to be the capital of their future state.

   Trump's decision, said the resolution, also stripped the U.S. of its role as 
a "sponsor and broker" in the Mideast peace process, and "undermines efforts to 
bring about peace, deepens tension and will spark anger that will threaten to 
push the region to the edge of the abyss of violence, chaos and bloodshed."

   The resolution adopted by the ministers reiterated that only the creation of 
an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital would end 
the Arab-Israeli conflict. It also mandated the Arab League to launch an 
"international media campaign" explaining the "gravity" of the American 
decision.

   During a 2  hour session carried live on regional and local TV networks, 
the ministers gave speech after speech on the issue of Jerusalem, with comments 
ranging from blasting Trump's decision to the need for concrete action to 
musings on whether fiery speeches would change anything.

   "If we do nothing about this one (Trump's decision), there will be many, 
many more tragedies," warned Iraq's foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. "No 
normalization (with Israel) and no compromises."

   Al-Jaafari later told reporters he thought the resolution did not match the 
seriousness of the situation over Jerusalem and that Baghdad would at a later 
date lodge its "reservations" with the Arab league.

   Addressing the meeting, Lebanon's foreign minister, Gibran Bassil, suggested 
that there might be a silver lining in the latest crisis to hit an Arab world 
locked in conflict with Israel for nearly 70 years.

   "Could this calamity bring us together and wake us from our slumber?" he 
told the meeting.


(KA)

 
 
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