Arab League chief told to step down by leading Palestinian official over Israel normalisation comments
Saeb Erakat, the General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, who has previously led Palestinian negotiations with Israel, said that Aboul Gheit had effectively announced his support for US President Trump's plans to allow Israel to annex occupied Palestinian territory.
In an interview with Sky News Arabia on Monday the Arab League Secretary-General praised the UAE's and Bahrain’s normalisation deals with Israel, saying that they had stopped Israel annexing Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
The UAE also used this as a justification for its deal with Israel, despite Israeli officials saying they still planned to annex large parts of the West Bank.
Aboul Gheit also said that the Palestinians should have "understood" the reasons for the UAE's normalisation agreement.
Palestinians have almost unanimously condemned the UAE and Bahrain's normalisation deals with Israel, pointing out this occurred while the country continues to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.
Erakat said that Aboul Gheit's praise for the normalisation deals was an acceptance of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem and the Muslim and Christian holy places there.
He added that Aboul Gheit "had in effect given a green light to those Arab countries who are trying to normalise irresponsibly with Israel and ally with it militarily".
There has been widespread speculation that more Arab countries will sign normalisation agreements with Israel in the coming days.
Erakat also said that Aboul Gheit "had violated the Arab League’s covenant and decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative".
In 2002, the Arab League put forward the Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel peace and normalised relations only in exchange for withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and the setting up of a Palestinian state there.
The UAE and Bahrain’s normalisation deals constitute a clear departure from this peace initiative.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians resigned their chairmanship of the Arab League in protest at the organisation’s failure to condemn the Bahrain and UAE’s normalisation deals.
In his interview with Sky News Arabia, Aboul Gheit also criticised Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah for holding reconciliation talks in Istanbul, saying that these should have taken place in an Arab city.
He also took aim at Turkey and Iran, saying that they had "expansionist projects" in the Arab region and had been emboldened by the Arab Spring and "political Islam".
Aboul Gheit, an Egyptian, became Secretary-General of the Arab League in 2016. He served as Egyptian foreign minister between 2004 and 2011.