For their first summit since the region became divided over a series of normalization agreements with Israel, Arab leaders have gathered in the capital city of Algeria. Before the coronavirus pandemic began in 2019, the 22-member Arab League last met for a summit. The establishing of diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab League nations including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, the effects of the conflict in Ukraine have significantly changed the regional agenda in the past years. In his opening remarks to the first Arab League summit in three years, Algeria’s president urged Arab unity in the face of rising “tensions and crises.” In his opening remarks, Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated, “Our main and first cause, the mother of all causes, the Palestinian issue, will be at the heart of our concerns and our main priority.” Additionally, the president of Algeria issued a warning that “extraordinary global conditions are fostering divisiveness, which is affecting our food security.”
The Arab League was established in 1945 with an objective to foster unity, has been harmed in recent years by widening divides. The leauge has remained committed to create Palestine as an independent state for many years, but its efforts have been hampered by factors such as Iran’s influence, the Syrian civil war, and certain members’ decisions to normalize relations with Israel. However, the Arab League summit two days came to a conclusion with a statement that reaffirmed the organization’s support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, protection of the holy sites of Jerusalem against Israel’s violations and denounced both Israel’s use of force and blockade of Gaza. Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, urged calls for unity, “We must intensify coordination and consultation and reject our internal differences and prioritize our common interests.” He added, “We stress the importance of continuous coordination among our Arab countries to enhance our national and regional security and renew our total rejection and response to the approach of expansion and domination at the expense of others.
Research Associate, Pakistan House