Monday, February 13, 2012

Abbas get support of Arab League for the dusted off idea of an international conference

 Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Sunday got the support of the Arab League for the old idea of an international peace conference for the Middle East. Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday supported his request and stressed in a statement "the importance of holding an international peace conference on the Palestinian issue." That meeting would seek "an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories and to reach a comprehensive solution to the issues of borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees based on the Arab peace initiative." 
Secretary general Al-Arabi and Abbas.
The last international conference took place in Madrid in 1991 and was convened at the request of  James Baker III, the Secretary of State under Bush sr. It led to talks in sub-committees that weren´t very successful and were eventually overtaken by the secret talks in Oslo that resulted in the Oslo-Agreements between Israel and the PLO.
Before the League took its decision, Abbas told the Arab League's Follow-Up Committee, which tracks Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, that he will not resume peace talks with Israel before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will agree to a building freeze in the Israeli settlements including Jerusalem, as well to the demand to accept Israel's pre-1967 war frontier as the basis for a border with a future Palestinian state. Abbas said he is sending a letter to Netanyahu with these demands. In case of a negative response, Abbas said he will resume the campaign for recognition of a state of Palestine by the U.N.
Abbas also warned that the continued deadlock could have dire consequences for the Palestinian Authority. "The current situation cannot continue as it is, that of an Authority without power," he said.
Abbas is under pressure, particularly  from the so called Quartet (the USA, UN, EU and Russia) , to resume low-level border talks that began last month. His request for support for the dusted off idea of an international conference is meant to give him backing in his refusal to give in.
The League statement also called on its members to contribute financially to support the Palestinian Authority with $100 million a month. The statement said the funds were needed "in light of the financial strain on the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people, with Israel not transferring the rightful money of the Palestinian Authority."

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