UAE drops proposal for committee

The UAE drops a proposal to establish a conflict-resolution committee for Muslim nations.

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ABU DHABI // The UAE has withdrawn a proposal to establish a conflict-resolution committee designed to mediate between Muslim nations, officials said yesterday.

"The goal of [withdrawing the plan] was to retain the unity of Muslim nations," said Rashid al Marar, a member of the Federal National Council (FNC) and a member of the UAE delegation to a summit of Muslim parliaments taking place in the capital.

Abdulaziz al Ghurair, the speaker of the FNC, confirmed that the UAE had shelved the proposal, which Iran alone had objected to.

"We wanted to emerge as one team from this conference, without a split of even one country," said Mr al Ghurair.

The UAE had sought the creation of the committee for nearly a year, saying it would be an ideal venue to mediate the more than 240 disputes that exist between Muslim nations. It first floated the proposal at a parliamentary summit in Kampala.

Iran had earlier this week threatened to boycott yesterday's meeting, a summit of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC), saying the creation of the committee would exacerbate tensions between Muslim nations and would be used to discuss the Iranian occupation of the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which the UAE claims are its territory.

UAE officials said the committee was not proposed with the islands in mind, and that its decisions would, at any rate, be non-binding.

The UAE abandoned the proposal in order to maintain Muslim unity and to avoid distracting the conference from its central issue, which is protecting Jerusalem from Israeli aggression, delegates said.

The proposal's withdrawal was met with praise by Saudi Arabian, Syrian and Algerian delegates, who commended the UAE for the move.

UAE officials set a conciliatory tone in speeches at the summit, and issued stern demands for the protection of Jerusalem. The summit's focus on Palestine comes amid a campaign by the Palestinian Authority to gain recognition for a Palestinian state without having to negotiate with Israel.

"The Arab and Islamic nature of Jerusalem cannot be abandoned," said Sheikh Saud al Qassimi, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, in a speech delivered on behalf of Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE.

Regardless of Israeli actions, "history and law and international legitimacy will only stress the continued Islamic rights in Jerusalem", he said.

In a final communique issued yesterday, the PUIC's executive committee, which is headed by the UAE, stressed that an independent Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital is the central issue of the Muslim world. The committee also launched a parliamentary campaign to lobby American and European lawmakers for more action concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.