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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki turned down chairing Arab League meetings, a role his nation was meant to hold for six months.
Condemning as dishonorable any Arab agreement recognizing and establishing formal ties with Israel, al-Maliki said Tuesday that Palestine had quit its current chairmanship of all Arab League meetings.
The move comes as two Arab nations—the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—signed a formal agreement with Israel in Washington last week, normalizing and instituting official diplomatic relations. The Palestinian people and authorities see these agreements as a betrayal to their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Speaking to the press in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestine's Foreign Minister said: "Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League's council (of foreign ministers) at its current session. There is no honor in seeing Arabs rush towards normalization during its presidency."
While he did not specifically name the UAE or Bahrain in his remarks, al-Maliki noted that he had informed Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit of his nation's decision.
Firmly rejecting the two recent normalizations by the Gulf Arab states, Palestine could not convince the Arab League earlier this month to publicly condemn nations breaking rank and normalizing relations with Israel. Palestine continues to call for an independent state based on pre-1967 borders and Israel's withdrawal from illegally occupied land.
In a surprising move to assuage internal differences within Palestine, officials from President Mahmoud Abbas' West Bank-based Fatah faction held reconciliation talks with the Gaza-based Hamas movement in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday. Along with discussing the recent diplomatic moves by Bahrain and the UAE and U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan, the two delegations debated ending their internal divisions and holding general elections.