Arab politics

1.) Why is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas planning to arrive “late” for the Arab Summit in Libya?

2.) The Jerusalem Post reported, citing an AFP story, that “Israeli-Palestinian tensions are affecting US national security interests in the region, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday. ‘The lack of progress toward Middle East peace is clearly an issue that’s exploited by our adversaries in the region’ and does affect US national security interests in the region’, Gates was cited by AFP as saying”. This JPost story can be viewed here.

4.) Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post says that “Late Friday evening, Israel Radio reported that Netanyahu holds to the view that Israel must not change its policy in Jerusalem, despite the fact that this was the main point of contentions between Israel and the United States … Earlier, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office threw a complete blackout on the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, and also gave very sketchy information about the commitments that the US is demanding of Israel as a precursor to starting the proximity talks with the Palestinians. According to officials, the US wants these commitments by Saturday so it can take them to the Arab League meeting in Libya and receive that organization’s backing for starting proximity talks …
However the circle of seven top ministers, known collectively as the ‘Septet’, did not come to any conclusions following the five-hour discussion and will probably only announce the government’s position after the Passover Seder which occurs Monday evening [and lasts … until April 5]. This post is published here.

6.) An LA Times blog reports that “Arab foreign ministers gathered in the Libyan city of Surt [Sirte] in preparation for Saturday’s Arab League summit announced their plan to more than triple aid to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from $150 million to $500 million in response to the construction of new Israeli settlements, Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters Friday. The request for more aid was made by the Palestinian Authority, which would presumably be responsible for distributing the money. Other proposals included urging the United Nations to condemn Jerusalem settlement construction, a travel ban on Israeli politicians, stronger protections for the Al Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites and official documentation of Palestinian land confiscated by Israel, Al Jazeera reported. Some delegates even suggested taking the ‘land for peace’ proposal endorsed by Arab states in 2002 off the table. here.