Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Arab Ligue gives four months 'cover' for indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks
News from Reuters. No comment needed.
Arab League ministers on Wednesday backed a U.S. call for indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, giving a boost to Washington's efforts to revive the moribund peace process. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had said he would adhere to the decision of the Arab League committee that met in Cairo.Israel welcomed the move. "Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has been calling for the resumption of talks for some time and we hope now that the talks can move forward," said spokesman Mark Regev.
Syria, a staunch opponent of Israel, said the decision was not agreed by consensus and said it appeared aimed at giving "political cover" for a Palestinian decision already taken.
"Despite not being convinced about the sincerity of the Israeli side to achieve a just peace, the committee sees ... indirect negotiations as a last initiative," Arab League chief Amr Moussa (picture) told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. "These negotiations should not be open-ended and must have a time limit not exceeding four months. The indirect talks should not be automatically translated into direct talks," he said. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had also said Arabs were not "convinced by Israeli intentions" but backed the U.S. idea.
Indirect negotiations, or so-called proximity talks, are likely to involve shuttle diplomacy by a U.S. mediator between Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian town of Ramallah, the seat of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
Palestinians have played down the significance of indirect talks, saying U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell's shuttle diplomacy over the past year has been merely that. Erekat said if discussions failed the committee would meet in July to assess developments. Moussa said any failure would prompt Arabs to seek an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.