The United States criticised the summit on Wednesday for failing to reaffirm support for the democratic movement taking place in the Middle East.

 

Asked about the end of the two-day summit, US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said there was "not really much to say, frankly".

 

"The final communique does not appear to reaffirm support for the trend towards greater democratisation and freedom in the Middle East," Ereli said. "We think that was a missed opportunity."

 

Pushing for democratic reforms in the Middle East has become a top priority for US President George Bush, who has praised elections in Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian territories that took place earlier this year.

 

Israeli reaction

 

Also voicing criticism on Wednesday was Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who accused the league's Secretary-General Amr Musa of leading what he called hardliners in dealing with Israel, thus preventing a number of Arab countries from proceeding with normalisation of ties with Israel.

 

Speaking in the Israeli parliament or Knesset, Shalom called on Arab countries to "adapt" to what he called "new realities" before demanding that Israel withdraw to 1967 borders.

 

Amr Musa: There can be no peace
without a return to 1967 borders

Summing up the situation, Walid Faris, professor of Middle East studies and comparative politics at Florida Atlantic University and an Arab affairs analyst, told Aljazeera the Israeli government had been expecting an acceptance by Arabs of Israel given new realities – new borders and annexed Palestinian land.

 

"This is what president Bush had promised when he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state that would recognise Israel. This did not materialise at the Algiers summit," Faris said.

 

"I do not believe the present situation in the Arab League will permit entry to the second stage for normalisation before reaching a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli question."

 

He added: "The Arab League summit has been successsful in resolving internal and organisational issues, but with regard to dealing with strategic options, I do not see anything new."