30th Arab League summit to consider returning Syria to the fold

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Arab League leaders meet in Tunis in search of consensus on readmitting Syria to the now 21-member body, and with a need to reassure the Palestinians. Full members of the League, the Palestinians are concerned about what they see as the normalization of relations with Israel and the erosion of the stated Arab commitment to their cause.

Syria was thrown out of the Arab League in 2011 over its violent response to opposition dissent, which led to the country’s civil war. President Bashar al-Assad appears set to stay in power, and Syria’s Arab neighbors have begun moving to restore diplomatic ties with the former pariah. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates see the re-embrace of Syria as a possible means of loosening Iran’s stranglehold on the country.

The leaders named their Apr 2018 meeting the Jerusalem Summit, and affirmed that the Palestinian issue is a top Arab priority. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Oman, and Chad’s president has visited Israel, which is reported to be tightening relations with Sudan and Bahrain. The closer relations that some Arab countries have developed with Israel run counter to declarations and resolutions adopted by the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation summits, he said. In the Israeli publication Haaretz in December, Palestinian official Nabil Sha’ath described the warming as “worrisome.”

Palestinian Authority officials are seeking an emergency sessions of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to address the issue.

The Arab League groups: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Chad President Visits Israel: Renewed Diplomatic Ties Won't Eliminate Palestinian Problem (Haaretz Nov 2018)

Syria's return to Arab League requires Arab consensus: UAE minister (Reuters Dec 2018)

Date written/update: 2018-12-31