Despite the importance of that debate from both political and legal angles, the Arab foreign ministers agreed to prioritize the interests of the Iraqi people and to allow the participation of the Iraqi Governing Council in the activities of the Arab League. This decision was based on a temporary basis until the finalization of the Iraqi constitution and holding the election for an internationally recognized Iraqi sovereign government. In fact, this decision reflected the harmony of the Arab countries which welcomed and accepted the Governing Council as a step toward electing a legitimate Iraqi government. Egypt played a major role in passing the above mentioned decision. It agreed with some other Arab countries in considering the stance of the United Nations regarding the Governing council as a reference for the Arab stance. Some other issues were discussed in that ministerial conference, including the development of the peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on both the Palestinian and Syrian tracks, the requests placed by both Turkey and Eritrea to be accepted as passive members in the meetings of the League and the Brazilian request to hold an Arab - Latin summit with the leaders of the Latin America. Finally, the Arab ministers reviewed the Sino-Arab relations, the Arab-African relations and the Mediterranean partnership. Tunisia Summit, May 2004 The Tunisia Summit was supposed to be held on the 21st of March 2004. It was preceded by a conference held by the Arab foreign ministers. The ministers agreed upon some documents to be finalized by the Arab leaders in Tunisia. A special declaration about the reform of the Arab League and another declaration about the internal reform processes were among the most important of those documents. After the arrival of Arab foreign ministers in Tunisia just on the night before the opening session of the Summit, the Tunisian President, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, unilaterally decided to postpone the Summit without releasing any specific reasons. That decision of postponing was a big shock for the Arab foreign ministers and the Arab public opinion which was looking for the Summit to issue serious and clear decisions about the comprehensive Arab reform. There were many interpretations for that sudden and unusual Tunisian stance. Tunisia said that it was a sovereign decision. The other Arab countires declined it on the basis that Arab traditions in holding Arab summits are based on the concordance of the Arab leaders and on the protocol adopted two years earlier. This protocol clearly states that the summits have to be held annually in March and hosted successively by Arab countries according to the alphabet of their names. The unofficial interpretations combined two things together. The first was the apology submitted by a large number of Arab leaders for not attending which put the Tunisian President in an embarrassing situation. According he unilaterally postponed the Summit. The second was the dispute among the Arab foreign ministers when they were trying to finalize the Summit statement regarding the Arab reform. Many Arab foreign ministers refused a paragraph persistently proposed by the Tunisian delegation. That paragraph included an Arab pledge to comply with the ambiguous so-called universal ethics. It could be said that the three reasons collectively contributed to the unilateral decision of postponement which was not preceded by a consultation among Arab leaders according to the well established tradition. Under the shock created by the sudden Tunisian decision, Egypt came up with a proposal to hold the Arab summit in Cairo premises of the Arab League as soon as possible. Such a decision gave a magnificent momentum to the Arab countries which thought that it was important to hold the Summit on its pre-set schedule without delay. The Arab public opinion was also asking for preserving the Arab League and reforming its functions without delay. After elaborate consultations maintained by Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, with a number of Arab leaders, it was decided to hold the Arab summit in Tunisia on the 22nd and the 23rd of May 2004. The Arab Summit was actually held on its new modified schedule. Amr Moussa pointed out in his report to the nine proposals submitted by the Arab countries to reform and develop the Arab League: establishing an Arab consultation council or Arab parliament establishing an Arab court of justice establishing a council or a forum for the issues of regional security maintaining a plan for cementing an integrated Arab economy establishing an Arab bank for investment and development according to the rules of free economy enhancing the social and economic council and to allow organizations of Arab civil society to play a role within the framework of the joint Arab activities reviewing the voting process used by the Arab League checking a new mechanism for guaranteeing the implementation of the Arab League decisions checking a proposal for forming a forum for Arab intellectuals and scholars to participate in discussing the problems of the Arab world The Arab Summit issued a numbers of documents: First: Tunisia declaration which included: the insistence of the Arab leaders on peace as a strategic choice to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict the commitment of the Arab community to support the Iraqi territorial integrity and to respect its independence achieving the integration among Arab countries the commitment of the Arab countries to pursue their contribution to the international efforts exerted to stand against and combat all forms of terrorism, and differentiate between legitimate resistance and terrorism calling for the holding of an international conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to establish an international code of ethics for the fight against terrorism, while working to tackle the root causes of this phenomenon supporting the United Nations to play a central and active role in Iraq urging the international community to fully protect the Palestinians from the Israeli aggression Second: The statement of modernization in the Arab world. It reaffirmed the intentions of the Arab leaders: to continue the process of modernization in political, economic, social and educational fields to strengthen the principles of democracy and consultation to enlarge participation in political and public life to widen women's participation and women empowerment. to set a comprehensive Arab strategy for economic and social development to cooperate with the international community on the basis of joint interests to foster regional and international stability and peace to increase the efforts for the sake of carrying out a fair, comprehensive settlement for the Arab-Israeli conflict Third: Statement of pledge, concordance and solidarity among Arab leaders. They reaffirmed their compliance with the comprehensive, fair peace, with the Arab peace initiative declared in Beirut in 2002, with continuing the efforts to reform the Arab League, with supporting the consultation and coordination among Arab countries in the fields of security, defense and foreign affairs, and with the completion of the Arab free trade zone. Despite the importance of those documents, there are still some defects as follows: Regarding peace process, the Summit only called the international community to exert more pressure on Israel to resolve the siege of the Palestinians. The Summit delegated the Arab foreign ministers to handle the international mobilization without specifying their authorities. Regarding the process of reform in Arab countries, the documents just clarified the intentions of the Arab leaders to go on with reform efforts in their respective countries without naming any specific missions to be started immediately. The summit dealt in an obscure and traditional way with the international forces, especially those which are supporting the Arab cause and sharing the Arab world in facing joint challenges such as: terrorism, confronting the idea of clash of civilizations, and coping with side effects of globalization. The summit contented itself with just supporting the proposal of the Brazilian President to hold a summit between the Arab countries and Latin American countries for the sake of developing joint relations. At the same time, the summit did not mention any other international organizations which have strong relations with the Arab world such the African Union and the Islamic Conference Organization. The documents of the Summit contented themselves with just mentioning the idea of supporting the Mediterranean partnership. They did not offer any detailed perspective about that partnership. The Summit also did not mention anything about the way of strengthening the relations with European Union. Among discussions and ideas introduced in Tunisia Summit, three trends related to the reform of the Arab League started to crystallize. The first trend thinks that it is better for things to stay as they are. The second is a moderate trend which believes in both crescendo and partial reform but without complying with a strict plan or a specific timetable. The third trend is calling for an overall structural reform as soon as possible. Such trends are interacting with each other through channels of politics and mass media but they are still unable to reach a joint Arab vision regarding the reform of the Arab League.