In a meeting in Quatar on Monday, an Arab ministerial committee discussed bringing back to life the peace process between Israel and Palestinian Authority. According to the Arab League chief, the purpose of the meeting was to talk about plans to send a mission to Washington in order to meet U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on April 29. The delegation team who will visit Washington includes the foreign ministers of Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and also the Arab League chief. As it was agreed at an Arab summit held in Doha in March, the delegation team will visit the UN Security Council in New York before visiting Washington. According to media reports from the Monday meeting, Kerry aims to revive the 2002 Arab peace initiative, which offers “diplomatic recognition of Israel in return for its complete withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and a resolution of the ‘Palestinian refugee’ issue.” On his 10-day overseas trip, John Kerry made his first stop in Ramallah on Sunday where he and Mahmoud Abbas held talks. During the talk Abbas told Kerry that he believes Israel should stop building in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and release terrorist prisoners taken before the 1993 Oslo Accords before resuming peace talks. He also demanded that Israeli Prime Minister offer a map of where the new Palestinian borders would be before peace talks; however, top officials say this would not be possible. Kerry offered Abbas incentives to return to peace talks including the release and securing of tax funds as well as expanding Palestinian jurisdiction into areas currently controlled by Israel.
Russian officials has criticised the decision by the Arab League to offer a place to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF) as not helpful to conflict resolution in Syria. At the March 26 Arab League Summit in Doha, members of the league voted to “boost the Syrian opposition, granting it a seat and allowing the member countries to arm it.” The decision was not unanimous with Algeria and Iraq contending that the decision to give Syria’s place to the NCSROF violated the Arab League Charter. Because the decision was not agreed upon by all states, it was decided that it would be up to individual states to choose to arm Syrian’s rebel’s fight against the Assad regime. Although it was agreed that conflict resolution was important in the area, some states argued that supplying arms to the rebels would “balance” out the forces leading to political resolution. However, Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, sees the decision to allow the NCSROF as the sole representative of Syria in the League to be a withdraw from the peace process and suggested that some states have their own agenda. The NCRSROF has admitted that it would like to see military intervention from the UN. Syrian opposition to the decision has stated that the League’s decision is illegal because the League is an association composed of states and not organizations representing only one wing. They claim this decision undermines the effort of the UN and the international community in trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution, and shows only that the Arab League has taken steps to dismember Syria by aggravating the situation.