Tensions ahead of Arab summit as UAE refuses to back Palestinian budget

Tensions ahead of Arab summit as UAE refuses to back Palestinian budget
The UAE has refused to back the Palestinian Authority's budget ahead of the Arab Summit, calling for a new Palestinian government.
3 min read
16 May, 2024
Arab nations launched mediation efforts following the dispute between the UAE and the Palestinian Authority [AMIRI DIWAN OF THE STATE OF QATAR / HANDOUT/Anadolu/Getty]

Preparatory meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday for an Arab League summit in Bahrain were marked by tension as the UAE expressed reservations over support for the Palestinian Authority's budget, making this conditional on the appointment of a technocratic government.

Abu Dhabi reserved support for two important items on providing financial help, The New Arab's Arabic-language edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that preparatory committee decisions related to financial support for the PA's budget were amended based on the UAE's strongly worded reservations, with the provisions Abu Dhabi objected to removed.

They will therefore not be part of the final resolutions issued by the Bahrain Summit, taking place on Thursday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver a speech at the event, the 33rd Arab Summit. Officials including Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa are accompanying him.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's sources said that the UAE expressed reservations over two paragraphs in the preparatory committee's resolutions because it wanted the PA to establish a government of "independent" technocrats.

The UAE also said that the PA had not had "any meaningful achievements over recent years", according to the sources.

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The UAE's objection angered the Palestinian side, which submitted a memorandum saying Palestine "believes in the sovereign right of any member state to express its reservations or observations on resolutions".

But this must "be based on rules and principles that align with the Charter of the Arab League, which requires non-interference in the internal affairs of member states", the memorandum added.

"Moreover, reservations must take into account the tenet of respect between member states," it said.

The memorandum added that Palestine has reservations about the "unfair and incorrect" statements the UAE made, saying it "does not need lessons in integrity, transparency, trust, and independence from anyone".

The UAE normalised relations with Israel in 2020, under a deal brokered by former US President Donald Trump, with Bahrain and Morocco following suit. Palestinians slammed the deal as a betrayal of the cause, pointing out that it rewarded Israel while it continued to occupy their land.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's sources said amendments to the original resolution were made at the wish of the UAE, necessitating the meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Palestinian side insisted the Arab League include the Palestinian memorandum in the final resolution as a note.

It prompted exchanges in the media between officials from Palestine and the UAE, with the Jordanian, Egyptian, Moroccan, and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers engaging in mediation efforts.

The mediation focused on withdrawing the UAE's reservation in return for pulling the Palestinian memorandum from the meeting minutes and the final resolution of the Bahrain Summit due to "inappropriate mutual accusations", Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's sources said.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed obtained the text of the provisions on financially supporting the PA that were removed after the UAE's objection.

The first stressed that a financial safety net should be activated as soon as possible.

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The other requested member states support the Palestinian budget "according to the mechanisms approved by the Beirut Summit 2002", starting on 1 May 2024 and until the convening of the next edition of the Arab Summit.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's sources said the Bahrain Summit's financial resolution was completely emptied of its content, leading to dissatisfaction among countries such as Algeria, Qatar, and Lebanon, who were not consulted before the two provisions were removed.

An agreement was reached among the Arab delegations to amend the clause concerning the safety net, originally set at $100 million a month.

The text now includes an agreement to establish a new safety net after negotiations.

It would mean the explicit text on supporting the PA budget no longer binds any Arab state, making financial contributions to the Ramallah-based administration optional.