Arabs Seek Unified Peace Approach

An extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers has concluded at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo.

The meeting on Thursday discussed means of adopting a unified approach to the Middle East peace process and a report on alleged crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip last January.

The ministers said in a statement that they will ask the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on Israeli "violations" in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

The statement said that the ministers had decided to set up a committee of international law experts to prepare a case against Israel.

The Arab League will strive "to obtain a decision from the United Nations General Assembly to task the International Court of Justice to examine Israeli violations in Jerusalem," the statement said.

Israeli violations are considered to include the expansion of Jewish settlements, land confiscations and home demolitions in east Jerusalem.

The court, which is based in The Hague, is the principal judicial arm of the United Nations.

The ICJ issued a non-binding resolution in 2004 calling for parts of an Israeli barrier that which partly runs through the occupied West Bank to be torn down and for construction there to cease.

Opposite Demands

The meeting comes after two separate peace initiatives emerged from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Tony Blair, the Middle East Quartet’s envoy.

But both peace initiatives express opposite demands.

The Palestinian Authority, of which Abbas is the head, insists that Jerusalem should become the capital of a future Palestinian state, while Israelis consider it their capital and both sides claim the city was in their ownership from biblical times.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing the city in the Six Day War of 1967, declaring the city its "eternal, undivided capital" and the move has not been recognized by the international community.

Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem, which the ICJ has said violate international law, are home to roughly 200,000 Jewish settlers.

Palestinians also demand that Israel should dismantles the illegal Jewish settlements as well as recognize the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Israel insists that the refugees’ return would threaten their identity as a Jewish state, as Arabs would potentially outnumber Jews.

Israel also says the barrier of concrete and steel is necessary to guard against Palestinian attacks while Palestinians say it is a land grab that undermines their future state.
(Aljazeera and Agencies)

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