Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi Reuters

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi called Thursday for a special criminal court to be set up for Israel, at a meeting to condemn an announcement that it will never cede the Golan Heights to Syria.

Delegates to the 22-member Arab bloc based in Cairo are expected to pass a resolution denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's pledge Sunday that the Golan would remain Israeli "forever".

Israel liberated the Golan during the 1967 Middle East war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Golan Heights is strategically important for Israel, overlooking vast swathes of northern Israeli communities. Until its capture in 1967, Arab armies regularly used it to shell Israeli civilians in the plains below. The renewed Jewish presence in the Golan after the Six Day War came centuries after conquering Arab armies wiped out the ancient Jewish population in 636 CE. 

Israel was acting like "a country that is above the law and accountability", Arabi told delegates at the start of the meeting.  

He demanded "a special criminal court for the Palestinian cause" to try Israel, like the ones set up for Serbian war crimes.  

Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Cairo and delegate to the Arab League, Ahmed Qattan, accused Israel of trying to profit from the conflict in Syria - an ironic claim given Saudi Arabia's own heavy intervention in Syria. 

"The Zionist entity is exploiting the years of crisis in Syria," he said.

AFP contributed to this report.

Join our official WhatsApp group