Mouaz al-Khatib, the recently resigned leader of the Syrian opposition, represented Syria at the summit and delivered a passionate speech in which he said that for over two years the Syrian people have been being slaughtered before the world's eyes.
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"It is the Syrian people that have begun this revolution and it is them who will decide their fate," Al-Khatib said.
He further stressed that despite the fact the US has granted rebels humanitarian aid, "The US's role should be more then that." He reiterated the fact the opposition's demands are not for the sake of warfare but rather for the protection of the Syrian people and their struggle for liberty.
Al-Khatib: US's role should be larger (Photo: AFP)
Al-Khatib's speech was made possible after Arab League foreign ministers decided to allow the Syrian opposition to represent Syria at the summit in Assad's place.
According to him, the current regime has boastfully rejected all humanitarian initiatives the opposition and world powers have offered it, even those of an a-political nature.
He further noted that he checked with US Secretary of State John Kerry the possiblity of the US placing Patriot missiles in Syria to protect civilians from regime missile onslaughts.
The 24th Arab summit was participated by 16 presidents, prime ministers, emirs and kings, as well as high ranking officials from member countries. The participants included the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese Prime Minister Michael Suliman.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi said in his speech that without an end to the Israeli occupation and the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, the region will not be able to enjoy stability or security.
Al-Arabi praised the observer status attained by the Palestinians at the UN's General Assembly, calling it a "great achievement" which could serve as the basis for future achievement.
He also expressed hope that the current US initiative to resolve the conflict will be substantially different from previous attempts.
Palestinian delegation (Photo: Reuters)
In regards to Syria, al-Arabi said that League has offered numerous initiatives to restore calm in the country, all of which were rejected by the Assad regime. He went on to blame Assad for the violence and deterioration in the country, and for using heavy artillery against his own people.
During the opening session, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke about the reconciliation between Ankara and Jerusalem. According to him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology was a step in the right direction, but nonetheless stressed that Israel must fulfill its obligations to the international community and put an end to the siege on Gaza.
According to him, as part of the reconciliation between the two powers, Israel agreed to work to improve the conditions of Palestinians living in Gaza; he also reiterated his country's commitment to the Palestinian issues regardless of their relations with Israel.
Regarding an actual resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Davutoglu said that Turkey has always been in favor of a just and sustainable solution based on the idea of two states for two people.
He praised Abbas for his achieving a non-member observer status for Palestine, and promised to work to allow the Palestinian to reach full membership in the United Nations.
Al Jazeera reported that the Arab leaders will work together to formulate a new international initiative to resolve the issue and only then turn to deal with the Palestinian issue currently receiving a lot of attention in the wake of US President Barack Obama's visit to the region.
Emir of Qatar (Photo: AP)
However, during his speech, the Emir of Qatar said that the Palestinian issue is of paramount importance. "There can be no peace without a just solution for the Palestinians, which fulfills their legitimate rights as a people and that is first and foremost a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Al Thani said, adding that Israel must come to realize that only peace, not power, will bring it security.
The Emir further noted that the "Israeli assault against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the continued building of the settlements and prolonged detention of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are a source of tensions in the region and place obstacles before the already shaky peace process."
According to him, there are certain inalienable Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights which Israel is aware of. The Emir also pledged $250,000,000 to a new international fund which will support the Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem.
During his speech he suggested holding an additional Arab summit in Cairo together with Fatah and Hamas so as to bring about an end to internal Palestinian fighting.
The summit is also scheduled to discuss the 2002 Arab peace initiative.
Al Jazeera reported that the Arab leaders will discuss the possibility of creating a forum of Arab ministers who will be charged with communication with the US and others in the intentional community in the desire of promoting regional peaces, as well as working to halt Israeli infractions against Palestinians.
According to reports, there is an air of optimism surrounding the Abbas-led Palestinian delegation in regards to the diplomatic and economic outcomes of the summit.
The current assessments is that with the conclusion of the summit the League will reaffirm its previous support and commitments to the Palestinian issue and work to promote them in larger international forums, such as the Security Council; as well as offering a public statement supporting a sustainable and just solution to the conflict along the line of a two state solution.
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