KUWAIT CITY— Arab leaders say they will continue to regard Israel as an illegitimate state and have put all blame for troubled peace efforts on the Israelis as the 25th Arab League Summit in Kuwait City concluded Wednesday.
This year’s meeting was marked by deepening divisions among member countries, but a united stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was always expected.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallha read out a final communiqué at the summit’s close, saying “the Palestinian cause remains at the center of our concerns in the Arab world."
The body condemned Israeli settlement expansion and what it calls the desecrating of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
“We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East,” the declaration said. “We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been demanding Palestinian leaders give such recognition during the current peace talks.
Arab leaders also expressed their “utter solidarity for the Syrian people,” and urged President Bashar al-Assad to halt all military action.
They endorsed a peaceful solution to Syria's civil war, despite a call at the summit from opposition Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad al-Jarba for the international community to provided sophisticated weapons to rebels.
League delegates also pledged to work together to fight terrorism and promote economic activity in the region.
The secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, on Wednesday admitted there were originally doubts over whether the Kuwait meeting would take place because of numerous disagreements between members over issues like Egypt and Syria. He called for solidarity in the months ahead.
“We need to join forces for a better future,” he said.
At the summit’s closing ceremony, the acting president of Egypt, Adly Mansoor, also called for greater Arab collaboration, suggesting discord was undermining the league and preventing it from making meaningful improvements to the Arab world.
“We aspire to reaching a day when Arab citizens feel the results of our activities,” he said.
Egypt will host the next Arab League Summit in 2015.