Arab League against peace talks without clear borders

ByASSOCIATED PRESS
December 15, 2010 23:32

No alternatives to conflict put forward yet, such as a unilateral declaration of Palestinian state; negotiation track futile, Arabs say.




Amr Moussa, Sheikh Hamad bin and Mahmoud Abbas

Arab League meeting 311. (photo credit:AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

CAIRO — Arab foreign ministers spoke out Wednesday against any talks between Israel and the Palestinians, direct or indirect, unless the US takes a firm stance on the future borders of a Palestinian state.

The Arab position attempting to push the US to endorse the original 1967 borders as the baseline for negotiations between the two parties.

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While the Arabs are not backing a return to negotiations at this stage, they are not advocating any alternatives yet, such as a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.


The United States' peace efforts suffered a major setback after Washington abandoned efforts to coax Israel to freeze Jewish settlement in areas the Palestinians want for a future state.

"The negotiation track between the Palestinians and Israelis is futile. There is no return to talks. Any resumption is conditioned on a serious offer that ensures the end to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the peace process references," a final statement from the Arab ministers said.

The Palestinians say they want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War. They say they are willing to swap 1.9 percent of the land to enable Israel to keep some of the settlements.



The ministers said the failure of Washington to force Israel to stop settlement building on territories occupied in 1967 "demands that the American administration declares clearly the two states' borders be based on the 1967 borders."

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani said the Arabs are skeptical the US will be able to pressure Israel on core issues if it failed to force a settlement freeze, saying during his opening statement that the Arabs "can't provide support for the return to talks, whether direct or indirect, under these circumstances."

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has relied on an Arab League endorsement to give himself political coverage before engaging first in indirect and then direct talks with the Israelis.

"The Israeli position is now becoming clear that it attempts to divert the negotiation track into what the Israeli government wants, and to render the peace everyone is talking about into a peace with an Israeli hue without any consideration for the Palestinian and Arab rights," said Sheik Hamad.

But the Qatari minister said Arabs and the Palestinians at this stage are unable to pursue any other solutions but the peace talks.

"At least this time, we will stop the talks until the Americans can come up with something new."

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