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Arab League Secretary General to visit Palestine for first time

June 12, 2016 9:55 P.M. (Updated: June 13, 2016 11:13 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi is scheduled to visit Palestine on Tuesday -- his first visit to the occupied territory since he took office in 2011.

The office of the Palestinian president said in a statement that al-Arabi would be hosted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the President’s office in Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.

The two-day visit will be dedicated, among other things, to discussing the ongoing French-led peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas and al-Arabi will also discuss the Arab Peace Initiative which first came into existence in 2002 during the Arab Summit Conference in Beirut, Lebanon.

Al-Arabi, according to the statement, is scheduled to arrive at the presidential compound in Ramallah at 1:00 p.m. on board a Jordanian helicopter.

Also on al-Arabi’s itinerary, is a visit to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s tomb, and a trip to the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where he will perform the midday prayer at the Ibrahimi mosque, and subsequently fly back to Jordan.

The visit will come one week after al-Arabi stated that the Arab League would reject any amendments to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), a willingness that representatives of the Arab States conveyed to Israel amidst renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel has continued to reiterate its rejection to the French-led peace initiative, with Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold suggesting Friday that the conference represented a form of colonialism, while reiterating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sentiments that only direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) would be supported by Israel.

Newly-appointed Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu recently issued a joint statement in support of reviving the API for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Netanyahu and Lieberman also reiterated support for Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi's initiative, and threw their support behind the two-state solution.

All past efforts towards peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent contiguous state.

The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.

Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel's ongoing settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.

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