At The Arab Summit: President Abbas Slays the Dragon

06/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

During the latest Arab Summit held in Libya to discuss Netanyahu's assault on everything Palestinian in the holy city of Jerusalem, a rare and honest discussion broke out among the Arab leaders. Dubbed as the "Jerusalem" summit, many Arab dignitaries including leaders, kings, and presidents attended to show solidarity with the city and its Palestinian residents. It was very hard to hold this summit together due to differences in opinions and personal animosities some leaders have against each other, but this Arab Summit passed with little drama. The Arab Summit was held on March 27th and 28th. Arab citizens had very low expectations, as nothing the aging leaders decide has any weight. The accounts of what took place during the summit's closed session involved a provocative exchange between the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Libyan leader Moamer Kaddafi and the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah as the Arab leaders discussed their "choices"

Kaddafi started by advising the fellow Arab leaders to denounce the failed peace process and return to armed struggle, but only in Palestine. Syria's delegation jumped on the resistance wagon and declared its support to the Libyan proposal, announcing that they have always been supporters of armed struggle and made no apologies about their support for Palestinian armed factions. The Libyan leader then suggested that the Arabs should also support Syria in liberating the Golan Heights, also under Israeli military occupation. Amir Sabah of Kuwait interjected and asked those two leaders to be "wiser." The Amir argued that such a proposal would be the ultimate gift for the Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu, who is struggling to improve his tainted image. Resorting to armed struggle would give Netanyahu ammunition to re-proclaim to the world "Arabs only understand violence." The Amir went one step further and reminded the attending dignitaries that the US is making an effort to pressure Israel. In other words, the Libyan proposal would make it harder for the Americans to pressure Netanyahu to freeze his land-grab policies. The Amir urged his fellow leaders to donate to the $500 million Palestine fund to alleviate their suffering.

President Abbas did not fall into the trap of standing against legitimate resistance. Abbas did not want to be defending an unpopular Israeli government who has no interest in peace. When he took the podium he made his case in a few points:

1. There is popular Palestinian resistance in many cities throughout the West Bank. The popular resistance in those areas, such as Hebron and Bil'in, are peaceful on the part of the Palestinians and enjoy tremendous international support.

2. Hamas, the militant group in Gaza that enjoys support from the Syrian government, has stated through Mahmoud Zahar, a prominent Hamas leader, that launching indiscriminate rockets on Israel is "unpatriotic", and undermines national interest. President Abbas showed that armed struggle during the second intifada has brought more damage on Gaza than it can handle. "We will not allow for Gaza to get destroyed once more by another Israeli military offensive."

3. If the Arab leaders chose armed struggle, then that's fine as long as all Arabs join in and not just commission the people of Palestine with armed struggle. It was reported that Abbas said "I will not fight the Israelis with the Palestinian citizens alone," "if armed struggle is the mutual choice, we the Palestinians will be in the front line, but alone we should have to be not be."

4. Abbas made it clear that the current Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu is not interested in peace. Abbas stressed that any future peace agreement with the Israelis that does not guarantee the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem is worthless.

Toward the end of the meetings, the exchanges got heated. Refusing to be upstaged by President Abbas, the Libyan leader said that war with Israel will complicate things for the Arab regimes -- if not end their regimes. Kaddafi maintained, however, that the Palestinians are in a different position. Kaddafi further argued that the Libyans and the Algerians lost many of their youth in the struggle against colonialism without the help of other Arabs. President Abbas was reported to say, why don't we also issue a statement calling on the Syrian army to liberate the Golan Heights? The suggestion received a warm welcome from Kaddafi, but sources confirm that President Assad "got the message" and declared that peace, not war, is his strategy.

Ultimately, the Libyan leader agreed with President Abbas' vision for peaceful resolution. President Abbas, who was snubbed by Kaddafi on a State visit to Libya a few weeks prior to the Summit, chose to go to the Lion's den and make his case to leaders who disagree with his vision. One thing remains clear: if Abbas and his team of technocrats fail, the consequence of their failure is grave, and that's a conclusion even his hardest-hitting critics agree with. Rejecting a proxy war on behalf of the other Arab regimes was a good move for President Abbas, who knows violence will only beget more violence and everybody loses.