Arab League Head Indefinitely Postpones First Official Visit to Ramallah
Nabil Elaraby was slated to meet Palestinian President Abbas on Tuesday, but Israel refused to let him fly directly to Ramallah, Palestinian official says.
Arab League director general Nabil Elaraby has postponed his first official visit to the Palestinian Authority, which was scheduled to start Tuesday. No new date has been set for the visit.
The visit was postponed because of Israel's refusal to allow Elaraby to travel by helicopter directly from Jordan to Ramallah, as originally planned, said a senior official in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel insisted that Elaraby arrive via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, and go through all the required checks, said the official.
Elaraby's had planned on updating Abbas about the recent conference in Paris concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because Elaraby was the most senior Arab diplomat who participated in the Paris meeting, said Palestinian officials.
This was to be Elaraby's first visit to the PA since becoming the head of the Arab League in 2011, and he decided not to visit Jerusalem or the al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sensitivity of coordinating such a visit with Israel. Instead, he was scheduled to pray at the al-Ibrihimi Mosque in Hebron, located at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
"There is no doubt that Elaraby's visit is a form of taking a position in light of the calls and comments made in Israel concerning the Arab Peace Initiative, or leading a regional process bypassing the French initiative, which the Palestinian leadership has explicitly rejects," said a senior official in Abbas' office.
Elaraby's schedule for the planned two-day visit was released on Sunday by Abbas' bureau. He was supposed to land in a helicopter at the Muqata'a in Ramallah on Tuesday for meetings and an iftar meal with Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials at the end of the day's Ramadan fast. On Wednesday he was scheduled to go to Hebron before returning to Amman. The visit was originally scheduled to start Monday, but was delayed by a day due to Elaraby's tight schedule.
The IDF failed to respond to a Haaretz inquiry on the matter.