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Arab League calls for 'new approach' to ME conflict
By JPOST.COM STAFF
01/14/2013
Nabil Elaraby says focus should be on ending the "occupation," rather than "wasting time" with temporary agreements.
 
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby on Monday called for a “new approach” to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, AFP reported.

“In order to solve this problem, we should have a new mechanism and new methods and a new approach to dealing with the crisis,” Elaraby was quoted as saying.

“The main target after all these wasted years should be ending the Israeli occupation, not signing temporary agreements that would go round in circles and that would only lead to wasting time in a way that allows Israel to expand its settlements,” he added.

Last month, Elaraby described the Quartet on the Middle East - comprising the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia - as ineffective.

Al-Arabi's statements come on the heels of a visit to the West Bank late last month, the first-ever by an Arab League secretary-general.

Palestinian envoy to the Arab League Muhammad Sbeih said that Elaraby met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas during the trip, which was meant to demonstrate Arab solidarity with the Palestinians following the PA's successful bid to upgrade its UN status to non-member state and also to discuss ways to revive moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

At the time, Elaraby also vowed that the Arab League would hold “consultations” with its members to ensure that they met their commitments toward the Palestinians.

“Arab countries agreed at their Baghdad summit [in March] for an Arab safety net of $100m. each month, but unfortunately none of this has been achieved yet,” he said. “We must admit that Palestine needs material and political support,” Elaraby concluded.

To date, however, the financial aid has not been forthcoming.

In this regard, Fatah official Ahmed Assaf on Monday accused Arab countries of succumbing to US pressure by refusing to channel funds to the PA.

Also on Monday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated the PA's refusal to return to the negotiating table unless Israel halted settlement construction and released Palestinian prisoners.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report
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