Thursday, March 11, 2010
Abbas cancels 'proximity talks' with Israeli's
(Reuters) - Arab League chief Amr Moussa said on Wednesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him he would not enter indirect talks with Israel, only days after the Palestinian side had agreed to the contacts.
The about-turn puts on hold U.S. efforts to bring together Israel and the Palestinians in so-called proximity talks. The proposed talks, the Palestinian chief negotiator said this week, were a "last chance" to keep the Middle East peace process alive.
The decision came after Israel announced on Tuesday it would erect 1,600 settler homes in an area of the occupied West Bank it annexed to Jerusalem. Abbas had only agreed to the talks on condition that Israel imposed a Jewish settlement freeze.
"The Palestinian president decided he will not enter into those negotiations now ... the Palestinian side is not ready to negotiate under the present circumstances," Moussa told a news conference following an urgent meeting of Arab delegates at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.
Also Joe Biden, the US vice-president was not amused that the announcement about the 1600 new houses of the Jerusalem Planning Committee coincided with his visit to Israel, which among other things was meant to promote the peace talks. Biden was 90 minutes late at a dinner that Netanyahu was offering him in his honour. In diplomatic language that was a clear expression of his anger.