Nabil al-Arabi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on December 29, 2012
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (centre) with Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamal Amr (right) and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki at a press conference in Ramallah on Saturday. Arabi arrived in Ramallah for a visit and will be joined by 10 Arab foreign ministers, according to the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic head Riyad al-Malki. © Abbas Momani - AFP
Nabil al-Arabi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on December 29, 2012
AFP
Last updated: December 29, 2012

Arab League chief arrives in West Bank

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Saturday called on US President Barack Obama to be proactive in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his forthcoming term.

"We hope that the new American administration adopts a policy of conflict resolution rather than conflict management," Arabi said during a visit with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr to the West Bank headquarters of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Arabi said that in the four-hour meeting with Abbas they discussed the Arab League's promise to provide an economic "safety net" of $100 million (75 million euros) a month to alleviate Israeli sanctions imposed after last month's historic United Nations vote to raise the Palestinians' diplomatic standing.

"We discussed the financial and political support for the Palestinian Authority and the Arab safety net under which 100 US dollars had to be provided monthly, but were not delivered," he said.

He said the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority was undergoing a "crippling" financial crisis and that he and the Palestinian leader had agreed ways to tackle the problem, but he did not elaborate.

Other Arab foreign ministers are due to visit Ramallah "in the coming days and weeks," Arabi said.

On December 2, Israel said it would this month withhold tax and tariff funds it collects for the Palestinians this month

Usually Israel transfers about 460 million shekels monthly ($120 million, 92.7 million euros) in customs duties on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the Palestinian budget.

The transfers are governed by the 1994 Paris Protocols with the Palestinians.

Al-Arabi said that in the wake of the UN vote, he and Abbas also discussed "joint Arab political steps that should be taken after Palestine secured non-member state representation at the United Nations, in order to implement Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian land occupied since 1967."

He did not give details but added that the Palestinian issue would "return to the Security Council with full support from Arab countries and in agreement with European Union nations."

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Saturday received a first shipment of building materials across the border with Egypt, donated by gas-rich Qatar which has said it would invest $400 (300 million euros) in rebuilding Gaza.

The coastal enclave sustained major damage in a 22-day Israeli military operation that began in late December 2008.

Palestinian officials said a convoy of lorries carrying 800 tonnes of aggregate for road building passed through the Rafah border terminal, the only land crossing between Gaza and the outside world not dependent on Israel, which also maintains an air and sea blockade.

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