Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo have rejected Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which is seen to be heavily tilted in Israel’s favour, calling it a setback to peace.
At the Arab League meeting, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, threatened to cut all relations with Israel and the US including security ties and agreements with US intelligence agencies to combat extremism.
Mr Abbas has already rejected the proposed peace deal, which was unveiled earlier this week and paves the way for Israel to annex more occupied Palestinian land.
The Arab ministers slammed the plan as a setback to three decades of peace efforts, saying it was destined to fail because it breached international law and ignored UN resolutions that had formed the basis of previous negotiations.
The plan which was unveiled in Washington by the US president and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and allows the Jewish state to annex settlements it built on occupied Palestinian land which are viewed as illegal by the UN. It envisages eventually giving the Palestinians limited self-rule on disjointed enclaves connected by roads and tunnels, but only if conditions set by Israel were met.
The ministers said Mr Trump’s plan was the culmination of “unilateral and unjust decisions by the US” which has already moved its embassy to Jerusalem and recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967 and considered occupied territory by the UN.
The US closed the Palestinian mission in Washington in 2018 and the Palestinians have not been part of negotiations for Mr Trump’s plan.
Mr Abbas said he had refused to take Mr Trump’s calls and messages because he did not want the US president to be able to claim that the Palestinians had been consulted on the peace plan.
The foreign ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state within boundaries before Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 with its capital in East Jerusalem.
The foreign minister’s statement affirms longstanding Arab positions on the two state solution, but initial reaction from key Arab states to the Trump plan were less hardline. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia urged careful consideration of the plan without explicitly endorsing it. They called for Palestinians and Israelis to resume negotiations under the auspices of the US.
Diplomats and analysts said the Arabs did not want to anger Mr Trump arguing that there has been a reordering of priorities in the region, with the intractable Palestinian-Israeli conflict losing importance in the eyes of some governments which increasingly see their national interest in closer ties with the US and even Israel. Gulf countries are anxious about Iran which they view as the main threat in the region. Egypt has drawn closer to Israel as they fight Isis in the Sinai on their joint border.