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OCCUPATION IS CORE ISSUE OF STRUGGLE IN MIDDLE EAST — ARAB LEAGUE CHIEF

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, Aug 15 – The Arab League Secretary General, Nabil El-Araby, said, the Egyptian initiative is important, to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza, but stressed that the “origin of the whole matter is occupation.”

Al-Araby made the statement during a joint press conference here today, with Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

What Israel claims that it withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 “is meaningless, since they are still occupying Gaza, through besieging it, turning the Strip into a wide prison for 1.8 million people,” he said.

According to Al-Araby, the main aim at present is to stop the fighting, then prepare for Gaza reconstruction. The next step will be providing protection for the Palestinians in the Strip.

“What happened in Gaza is a brutal, fierce aggression that extended to civilians, women and children,” he said.

The Arab League chief referred to the demand by the State of Kuwait, to convene a meeting for the Arab League Foreign Ministers, since the eruption of the aggression on Gaza.

The meeting was held on July 14 and formed a committee entrusted with having talks on the international level, to stop the war on Palestinians in Gaza.

The committee is chaired by Kuwait, which is also chairing the Arab Summit, with Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League Secretary General as members.

Al-Araby expressed gratitude to the State of Kuwait and the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who has adopted various steps regarding the Arab issues. He noted that consultations continue for organising a conference for the reconstruction in Gaza.

The idea has been addressed by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and is supported by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

On recent comments by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the Arab Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in 2002, did not include the right of return for Palestinians, Al-Araby said that, the initiative was acknowledged by the following Arab summits and that it includes seeking a solution for Palestinian refugees.

According to the Saudi 2002 initiative, Palestinians have the right, either to return or to have compensation, Al-Araby said. But 12 years on, the initiative has been utterly neglected by Israel.

The Arab Initiative aims at ending the struggle, in line with resolutions of the international legitimacy, which starts with Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories, to be followed by finding a just solution to the refugees’ issue.

On the expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, and the impact on Syria, Al-Araby said, all that what the League could do is to condemn such acts of terrorism and contact the relevant parties in the international community to practice pressure on such groups.

He stressed the fact that such armed groups do not operate within a regular government or international frame.

In the meantime, Al-Araby expressed hope for the formation of a new Iraqi government, that will be amenable to all Iraqis. He said, his talks here today with Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, covered steps to be taken by the Arab League, both on the summit and the ministerial levels, to reach out to Iraq, at this critical stage.

Meanwhile, Al-Araby expressed regret for the continuation of fighting in Syria, that has led to 6 million people being displaced internally, in addition to another 3 million, who have fled the country.

Referring to developments in Libya, Al-Araby underlined the need to offer help to the country, to get out of the impasse it is suffering, urging the UN and the European Union (EU), to assist the country build its national institution.

For his part, Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, stressed Kuwait’s support to Egypt’s initiative and efforts, to stop Israel’s military attacks on Gaza, and realise a permanent calm there.

He also paid tribute to the efforts by the Arab League chief, seeking an agreement likely to put an end to the Palestinians’ sufferings.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled added that he and Al-Araby addressed the overall issues on the Arab scene, topped with the Israeli aggression on Gaza, developments in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Libya, in addition to other regional and international issues.

He highlighted Kuwait’s efforts on the regional and international levels, as the president of the current Arab Summit, referring to the country’s call, since the very first days of the aggression on Gaza, to convene a meeting for the Arab League Foreign Ministers.

Kuwait also took part in the two extraordinary meetings of the Executive Committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), at the level of foreign ministers held in Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled also referred to the directives by the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to send relief supplies, food stuff and medications worth USD 10 million to Palestinians in Gaza, through the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS).

The meeting with Al-Araby was also meant to follow up what has been implemented so far, from the decisions taken by the Arab League Foreign Ministers’ meeting in July, either on providing urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza or contacting regional and international organisations, to stop the aggression, he said.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled stressed the gravity of the conditions in the region, saying that the acceleration of events necessitates such meetings and discussions.

On the 2002 Arab peace Initiative, he said that it was approved by the international community and only Israel hampered it.

Referring to the expansion of ISIL in northern Iraq, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said that the developments are considered “a translation of what we have been warning against, since the situation in Syria started to deteriorate, namely that destruction will not only occur there (Syria) but will be extended to neighbouring countries and to the region.”

He urged intensifying efforts to study developments in Syria, and to stress that a political solution must be based on Geneva I.

Meanwhile, the Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, are keen on “a secure and stable Iraq, since this will be reflected on their own security and stability.”

The GCC states are also keen that the Iraqi people will be represented in the country’s constitutional institutions.On the GCC scene, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said that after three decades, the Council owns the ability to contain “impurities and sediments” that might emerge.

He underscored in that context his confidence in the wisdom of GCC leaders and their keenness, and abilities to remove all obstacles.

In his reply to a question on the obstacles impeding the implementation of the Riyadh Document, concluded on April 17, especially after the GCC foreign ministers decision in Saudi Arabia yesterday, to complete its formalities in less than a week, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said that the latest step was part of work that has continued for a time.

He noted that yesterday’s statement reflected “a positive spirit” by the GGC six-member states to overcome that stage that harmed the Council’s course, which is a major source of the joint Arab work.

SOURCE: KUNA