Arab League

Arab League
(League of Arab States)
   Founded on 22 March 1945 in Alexandria, Egypt, to coordinate increased Arab economic, cultural, and political unity. Its highest decision-making body is the Arab League Council, comprised of the heads of member states and based on equal representation. The Arab League has played a central role in the conflict with Israel. In 1946, it instituted a boycott on trade with the Zionist community in Palestine (this embargo was transferred to the state of Israel after independence in May 1948). On 17 December 1947, the Arab League formally rejected the United Nations Partition Plan (see PALESTINE PARTITION PLAN), called for an independent Arab state in all of Palestine, and resolved (on 9 February1948) to prevent the birth of Israel. In January 1964, at a summit meeting in Cairo, the league endorsed the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). At the Khartoum Arab Summit of September 1967, it issued its infamous "three noes"—no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. At its Rabat Conference (October 1974), the league recognized the PLO as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinians. It opposed the Camp David Accords of September 1978, expelling Egypt and "temporarily" moving its headquarters to Tunis from Cairo.
   The Arab League became increasingly fragmented over inter-Arab disputes (such as the Lebanon civil war, the rise of Muslim fundamentalism, and Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait) as well as over developments on the peace front with Israel, including the peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) and the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles (1993). Also impinging on the internal unity and effectiveness of the Arab League was the growing tendency of member states to place their individual national interests before pan-Arab considerations, especially but not exclusively in regard to relations with Israel. At its Beirut Summit in 2002, the Arab League unanimously endorsed the plan put forward by the government of Saudi Arabia: preconditioned normalization of relations with Israel on Israel's return to the pre-June 1967 lines, acceptance of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and the opening of Israel's (reduced) borders to Palestinian refugees and their descendants via the "right of return." These terms of reference—already viewed as nonstarters by Israel and the United States—were reaffirmed by the Arab League at its March 2007 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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