Arab League Pins Hopes on Obama's Second Term

Arab League asks U.S. to be "proactive on peace."

Gil Ronen ,

Nabil Al-Arabi
Nabil Al-Arabi

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Saturday called on US President Barack Obama to be "proactive" in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his forthcoming term, according to AFP.

"We hope that the new American administration adopts a policy of conflict resolution rather than conflict management," Arabi said during a visit with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr to the Ramallah headquarters of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmud Abbas.

Arabi said that in the four-hour meeting with Abbas they discussed the Arab League's promise to provide an economic "safety net" of $100 million a month to alleviate the effect of Israeli sanctions imposed after last month's United Nations vote to raise the PA's diplomatic standing.

"We discussed the financial and political support for the Palestinian Authority and the Arab safety net under which 100 million US dollars had to be provided monthly, but were not delivered," he said.

He said the PA was undergoing a "crippling" financial crisis and that he and the PA leader had agreed ways to tackle the problem, but he did not elaborate.

Other Arab foreign ministers are due to visit Ramallah "in the coming days and weeks," Arabi said.

On December 2, Israel said it would withhold tax and tariff funds it collects for the PA this month.

Usually, Israel transfers about $120 million in customs duties on goods destined for PA markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the PA budget.

Al-Arabi said that in the wake of the UN vote, he and Abbas also discussed "joint Arab political steps that should be taken after Palestine secured non-member state representation at the United Nations, in order to implement Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian land occupied since 1967."

He did not give details but added that the Palestinian issue would "return to the Security Council with full support from Arab countries and in agreement with European Union nations."

Palestinians in Gaza on Saturday received a first shipment of building materials across the border with Egypt, donated by gas-rich Qatar which has said it would invest $400 million in rebuilding Gaza after it sustained major damage in a 22-day Israeli military operation that began in late December 2008, and was pummeled again in a one-week operation in November 2012.

PA officials said a convoy of trucks carrying 800 tons of aggregate for road building passed through the Rafah terminal on the border with Egypt.