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This article discusses the role of the Arab League in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By the end of World War II, the Palestinian Arabs were leaderless. The mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin al-Husayni had been in exile since 1937 and spent the war years in occupied Europe, actively collaborating with Nazi leadership. As the war ended, he managed to escape to Egypt and stayed there until his death in 1974. His brother Jamal al-Husayni was interned in Southern Rhodesia during the war.

In November 1945, the Arab League reestablished the Arab Higher Committee as a supreme executive body of Palestinian Arabs in the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine, but it fell apart due to infighting. In June 1946, the Arab League imposed upon the Palestinians the Arab Higher Executive, renamed as "Arab Higher Committee" in 1947, with Amin al-Husayni as its chairman and Jamal al-Husayni as vice-chairman.


Arab League boycott

On December 2, 1945, the Arab League Council declared a formal boycott to any Jewish owned business operating in Mandatory Palestine: "Jewish products and manufactured goods shall be considered undesirable to the Arab countries." All Arab "institutions, organizations, merchants, commission agents and individuals" were called upon "to refuse to deal in, distribute, or consume Zionist products or manufactured goods."[1]


On 14 May 1948, the British rule over Palestine expired and Israel proclaimed its independence. On the following day, the then seven League members, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen coordinated an attack on the State of Israel marking the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, with the explicit objective being the destruction of the newly-formed Jewish state. On May 15, 1948, the Arab League Secretary General Abdul Razek Azzam Pasha announced the intention to wage "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."[2] However, despite the rhetoric Arab leaders were disunited. The Egyptians knew of Abdullah's agreement with Meir and were determined to thwart Transjordan's territorial ambitions, "thus the Arab war plan changed in conception and essence from a united effort to conquer parts of the nascent Jewish state and perhaps destroy it, into a multilateral land grab focusing on the Arab areas of the country."[3]

"A key feature of the Arabs' plans was the complete marginalization of the Palestinians... This aptly reflected the political reality: The military defeats of April-May had rendered them insignificant. The Arab League through the first half of 1948 had consistently rejected Husseini's appeals to establish a government-in-exile... Under strong pressure from Egypt, which feared complete Hashemite control over the Palestinians, the League Political Committee in mid-September authorized the establishment of a Palestinian 'government.'"[4]

On September 22, 1948, the All-Palestine Government was established in Gaza, and on September 30, the rival First Palestinian Congress, which promptly denounced the Gaza "government", was convened in Amman.


As a result of 1949 Armistice Agreements, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were ruled by Jordan, while the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt until the 1967 Six Day War. During the first few months of 1950, Israel and Jordan came very close to creating a separate "five-year non-aggression agreement," however in April of that year, "the Arab League decided to expel any Arab state which reached a separate economic, political or military agreement with Israel."[5] Therefore, due to pressure from the Arab League, as well as the assassination of King Abdallah, this agreement never came to pass.

The Palestinian National Charter of 1964 stated: "This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area."[6]

According to Yaacov Lozowick, "It was not the Palestinians themselves who decided to create the PLO after their defeat in 1948; The Arab League set it up in 1964 to attack Israel. For years, Palestinian independence was off the Arab agenda; now it was back. Inventing the PLO was a prelude to war, not a result of it; the goal was to destroy Israel, not to rectify the misfortune of the Palestinians, which still could have been done by the Arab states irrespective of Israel." [7]


On September 1, 1967, in the wake of the Six-Day War, the Khartoum Resolution was issued at the meeting between the leaders of eight Arab countries. The paragraph 3 of the resolution became known as the Three No's:

  1. No peace with Israel
  2. No recognition of Israel
  3. No negotiations with Israel

During the years 1979-1989, Egypt was suspended from the Arab League in the wake of President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem and 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel. (See also: Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.)

The Arab League immediately recognized the State of Palestine unilaterally proclaimed on November 15, 1988, by the Palestinian National Council. At the time, the PLO was based in Tunis and did not have control over any part of Palestine.

After 2000

In 2002, Saudi Arabia offered a peace plan in The New York Times and at a summit meeting of the Arab League in Beirut. The plan, based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Resolution 338, but making more demands, essentially calls for full withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice line in return for fully normalized relations with the whole Arab world. This proposal received the unanimous backing of the Arab League for the first time.

In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stated: "... the Saudi step is an important one, but it is liable to founder if terrorism is not stopped... It is ... clear that the details of every peace plan must be discussed directly between Israel and the Palestinians, and to make this possible, the Palestinian Authority must put an end to terror, the horrifying expression of which we witnessed just last night in Netanya", referring to the Netanya suicide attack.[8]

The Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Ilah Khatib and Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit - appointed by the Arab League as its representatives - met with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and defense minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem on 25 July 2007. This was the first time that an Israeli government received an official delegation from the Arab League.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

See also


Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties


  1. ^ The Arab Boycott by Mitchell Bard Officially, the boycott covers three areas:
    • Products and services which originate in Israel (referred to as the primary boycott and still enforced in many Arab states)
    • Businesses that operate in Israel (the secondary boycott)
    • Businesses which have relationships with other businesses which operate in Israel (the tertiary boycott)
    In 1951, the Arab League established the Office of the Arab Boycott of Israel (OABI) based in Damascus, Syria in order to boycott companies that do business with Israel from operating in the Arab world. In its heyday, the Arab boycott office blacklisted more than 8,500 companies, including The Coca-Cola Company and Arab world urges EU to impose commercial embargo on Israel] (Israel Insider) May 27, 2005
  2. ^ Morris, 1999. p.219
  3. ^ Morris, 1999. p.221
  4. ^ Morris, 1999. p.222
  5. ^ Oded, Eran. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002.
  6. ^ Article 24 of the Palestinian National Charter of 1964
  7. ^ Yaacov Lozowick, "Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars", 2003. p.126
  8. ^ Response of FM Peres to the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut March 28, 2002 (Israeli MFA)
  9. ^ "Weekend News Wrapup-7-8-07" Cafe Cordover
  10. ^ "Officials: Arab League to make first official visit to Israel Thurs." Haaretz
  11. ^ "Arab League to visit Israel" Al Jazeera
  12. ^ "Weekend News Wrapup- 7/15/07" Cafe Cordover
  13. ^ "Arab League Envoys Postpone Israel Visit" The Guardian
  14. ^ "A Revealing Spat Between Israel and the Arab League" World Politics Review
  15. ^ "Arabs push Israel for final talks" Al Jazeera
  16. ^ "The Arab League in Israel?" Cafe Cordover
  17. ^ "Arab League envoys extend ‘hand of peace’ to Israel" The News International
  18. ^ "Israel gets ´historic´ Arab visit - Envoys urge action on Palestinian state" United Jerusalem

Further reading

  • Avraham Sela (1998). The Decline of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Middle East Politics and the Quest for Regional Order. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-3538-5.  


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