Moussa: Prepare for failure of talks

Ban urges Arab leaders to support indirect PA-Israel negotiations.

March 28, 2010 06:06
3 minute read.
Amr Moussa.

Amr Moussa 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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The chief of the Arab League warned on Saturday that Israel’s actions could bring about an end to the Middle East peace process.

Amr Moussa urged an Arab leadership summit in Libya to forge a new strategy to pressure Israel, saying the peace process could not be “an open ended process.

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“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.”

Also 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 Minister 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 negotiations, until Israel stops construction in the settlements, including in east Jerusalem.

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 after an Interior Ministry planning panel’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 at 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.

Also on Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the leaders gathered at the Arab League Summit in Libya to support indirect negotiations between Israel and the PA with a common aim of resolving all final-issues within two years.

“There is no alternative to negotiations for a two-state solution,” Ban said 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.

“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 Aksa 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,” Ban said. “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-member League 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 Teheran 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 homes on land Palestinians want for a 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 Middle East peace efforts.

The Arab leaders called 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 region.

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, 81, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who is 85.

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