Palestinian factions decry ‘summit of shame’ in Negev

Israel is exploiting Arab ‘fear’ to liquidate the Palestinian issue, the Palestinian Authority said.

 PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses PA officials in Ramallah.  (photo credit: FLASH90)
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses PA officials in Ramallah.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Israel is taking advantage of Arabs’ fear of Iran to divert attention from its actions on the ground and “liquidate” the Palestinian issue, the Palestinian Authority said Sunday in an implicit reference to the Negev Summit.

The PA and other Palestinian groups also expressed concern over the apparent emergence of an Arab-Israeli military alliance in the Middle East.

But while the PA refrained from criticizing the four Arab countries participating in the summit – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt – several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, strongly condemned the gathering, dubbing it a “summit of shame.”

Israel is “pretending that it’s focusing in its foreign policy on the Iranian nuclear file and the repercussions of the agreement that is being crystalized [between Iran and the US and other Western powers],” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “But Israel’s real focus is the liquidation of the Palestinian cause and an attempt to remove it from the world’s attention.”

According to the ministry, Israel, with the full backing of the US, is “taking advantage of Arab anxiety and fear to form a new security alliance that bypasses the Palestinian cause. This Israeli move aims to cover up what it is doing on the ground, including the expansion of settlements and the Judaization of Jerusalem. This is the main project that the Israeli government is working to implement as part of its attempts to rearrange the priorities in the region away from the Palestinian issue.”

 HAMAS SECURITY forces take part in a graduation ceremony in Gaza City last month. MESA continues its silence in the face of conduct that provides fertile ground for terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS) HAMAS SECURITY forces take part in a graduation ceremony in Gaza City last month. MESA continues its silence in the face of conduct that provides fertile ground for terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

In the Gaza Strip, representatives of the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of several radical groups, condemned the summit as a “stab to the Palestinian people and their cause.”

The groups said the “summit of shame” was being hosted by “the foreign minister of the extremist right-wing occupation government of settlers and on the ruins of the homes of the Palestinian people.”

The summit was being held on the eve of Land Day, marked by the Palestinians on March 30 to commemorate the killing of six Arab-Israelis in 1976 during protests against the Israeli government’s decision to confiscate thousands of dunams for state purposes in the Galilee, the groups said.

Israel and the US were “deceiving” the Arab countries into believing that the goal of the summit is to protect their security against a threat that does not exist, the Palestinian groups said.

“The real threat to the Arab nation is only the Israeli threat,” they said. “Any other threats are fabricated by the US and Israel and aim only to justify the establishment of an Arab-Israeli alliance as an extension of NATO, which failed at its first test in Ukraine.”

The Negev Summit “reflects the loss of the Arab identity for all those who agreed to be part of the project of normalization with the enemy,” senior PIJ official Daoud Shehab said, adding: “It is the right of all Arabs to ask: Are the Arab foreign ministers so ignorant of the reality and nature of the conflict in the occupied Negev, which is threatened with Judaization?”

Shehab strongly condemned the participation of the Arab foreign ministers in the meeting, saying it is “one of the aspects of normalization and cooperation that serves the occupation and its aggressive policies targeting the Palestinian people and their land.”

Hamas condemned the Arab ministers for accepting the invitation to meet with “Zionist officials on the occupied land of Palestine.”

The Negev Summit is being held “at a time when the Palestinian land is being subjected to the worst forms of settlement and Judaization and our people are facing persecution, terrorism, killing and displacement,” Hamas said in a statement.

Hamas reiterated its rejection of all forms of normalization with Israel and said such meetings “only serve the enemy in perpetuating its continuous aggression against our land, our people and our holy sites.”

Hamas called on the Arab countries that signed normalization agreements with Israel to reconsider them “in accordance with the interests of their peoples and in keeping with their historical responsibilities to protect Jerusalem and Palestine from the Zionist occupation.”

The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said the summit reflects the “ongoing decline of the Arab regimes.”

The PFLP said it viewed such meetings in the context of attempts to sidestep the Palestinian issue and deny the Palestinians their rights.

The group warned against the formation of an “Arab-Israeli NATO alliance that would place the Arab countries in confrontation with countries and forces that oppose hostile schemes targeting the peoples of the region and their interests,” a reference to Iran and its proxies, including Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah and the Houthi militia in Yemen.