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Libya refuses to take up Arab League presidency following Palestinian walkout

The presidency of the Arab League is now vacant [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 October, 2020

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Libya has announced that it will not take up the presidency of the Arab League after the Palestinians resigned in protest at Gulf normalisation deals with Israel.

Libya on Tuesday refused to assume the presidency of the current session of the Arab League, after Palestine resigned the position in protest at the organisation's failure to take a stand against the UAE-Bahrain normalisation deals with Israel.

Qatar also rejected the Arab League presidency towards the end of last month.

A spokesman for the Libyan Government of National Accord's foreign ministry, Mohammed Al-Qablawi, said that the country had informed the Arab League of its decision.

He added that Libya was looking forward to assuming the presidency of the Arab League "under better circumstances" and that the country "reserved the right to chair the Arab League", Al-Jazeera Arabic reported.

Read also: Social media users 'cancel' Arab League over failure to condemn UAE-Israel deal

The Palestinians assumed the rotating presidency of the Arab League last month and were due to stay in that role until next March.

However, after Arab League foreign ministers refused to condemn the UAE and Bahrain normalisation deals with Israel, or even agree to a resolution affirming support for Palestinian rights, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki announced Palestine's resignation from the Arab League Presidency on 22 September.

He said that the organisation had shown "a regression in values and principles". The UAE and Bahrain normalisation deals with Israel represent a major break with the Arab League's 2002 Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normal relations only in return for a full withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.

The Palestinians have condemned the normalisation deals as a "betrayal", saying that they allow Israel to continue to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem and besiege the Gaza Strip.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat has called on Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit to resign for his comments praising the deals.

Qatar was next in line for the Arab League presidency after the Palestinians resigned but announced that it would not take up the role until 2021.

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