Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Arab League says US plan crucial

Reuters, CAIRO

The Arab League said on Wednesday there would be no resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel until the US offered “a serious proposal” for ending the Middle East conflict.

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell said earlier on Wednesday he would hold separate talks with the Israelis and Palestinians, whose face-to-face negotiations broke down in September over the issue of Israeli settlement building.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the body’s peace process committee had “decided not to resume negotiations until a serious proposal is made allowing for an end to Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The Palestinians pulled out of the direct, US-backed negotiations when Israel refused to extend a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction, which ended on Sept. 26.

The US said last week it had been unable to persuade Israel to impose new restrictions on settlements and it would resume indirect negotiations on the issues at the heart of the conflict.

Moussa did not specify whether the Arab opposition to negotiations included the indirect talks.

Resumption of face-to-face talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requires a full halt to construction on land where they aim to found a state, including a stop to Israeli building in East Jerusalem, the Palestinians said.

Officials meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday were angered by the US position as conveyed to them by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior Palestinian official who attended the meeting said.

A senior Palestinian official had said Abbas was going to the Arab League for recommendations on the Palestinians’ next step. The Palestinian leadership would take decisions at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee in the coming days, the official said.

Mitchell met both Abbas and Netanyahu this week.

The Palestinians asked Mitchell to come back to them with Israel’s ideas on what the borders of the future Palestinian state would look like, a senior Palestinian official said, suggesting indirect peace talks are already underway.

However, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, chair of the Arab League committee, said he did he did “not expect anything” from the US.

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