The chief of the Arab League warned Saturday that Israel's actions could bring about a final end to the Middle East peace process.
Amr Moussa urged an Arab leadership summit in Libya on Saturday to forge a new strategy to pressure Israel, saying the peace process could not be "an open ended process."
“We must prepare for the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure,” Moussa said. “This is the time to stand up to Israel. We must find alternative options, because the situation appears to have reached a turning point.”
Speaking at the event, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no peace agreement without ending the occupation of Palestinian land, first and foremost east Jerusalem. He accused Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu's government of trying to create a de facto situation in Jerusalem that would torpedo any future peace settlement.
Abbas added that conflict in Jerusalem was dangerous and could ignite the entire Middle East. He said the PA would not resume peace talks with Israel, including indirect talks, until Israel stops construction in the settlements.
Earlier this month, Arab nations opened the door for Abbas to enter four months of indirect, American-brokered peace talks with Israel. But they later threatened to withdraw support for the talks because of Israel’s announcement of new plans for construction in east Jerusalem.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, said in his speech that the Israeli “violation” of peace in Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites was unacceptable.
Erdogan said that the Israeli position defining the whole of Jerusalem
as its united capital was “madness.” Israeli construction in east
Jerusalem was completely unjustified, he said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also a guest at the summit, called on Arab leaders to support indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a common aim of resolving all final issues within two years.
“There is no alternative to negotiations for a two-State solution,” Ban in his address.
“I am aware that regional confidence in the Israeli Government is very low, but there is no alternative to getting the parties to the negotiating table and testing their commitment.”
Ban called for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip which has created an “unacceptable and unsustainable” situation on the ground.
Ban reiterated his condemnation of settlement activity in east Jerusalem, describing the settlements as “illegal.”
“Like all of you, I was deeply dismayed when Israel advanced planning to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. There are several other recent unilateral actions as well,” Ban said noting Israel''s recent announcement of plans to construct another 20 dwellings and tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque, among others.
Ban said that Netanyahu had made it personally clear to him that he is ready to discuss many of these issues.
“It is crucial for the international community and the Arab countries to help create a favorable atmosphere in which the talks can succeed. Let that be our common commitment.”
“Each time when bad things happen, if dialogue is halted or suspended, that will only help all the extremists gain power,” the Secretary-General told journalists.
Moussa also urged the 22-nation bloc to engage Iran directly over
concerns about its growing influence and its nuclear activities, a
proposal that could undermine US and Israeli efforts to isolate the
Islamic Republic. Moussa's engagement plan would involve a forum for
regional cooperation and conflict resolution that would include
non-Arab nations Iran and Turkey.
"I realize that some are worried about Iran but that is precisely why we need the dialogue," Moussa said.
The push to engage Tehran seems to be at least partly fueled by Arab frustration over Washington's failure to get Israel to back down on plans for more Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for a future state.
It also suggests that Arab nations are increasingly less likely to align with the US strategy on Iran if they feel they are getting nothing in return in Mideast peace efforts.
The Arab leaders called together for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. Moussa was quoted by Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon
as saying that Arab states were facing a great threat in the form of
Israel’s nuclear capability. He warned against a nuclear arms race in
The summit registered a higher than usual number of no-shows from Arab leaders. Eight heads of state stayed away, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.