Turkey, Arab states meet in Damascus, urge Israel to halt settlements

Turkey, Arab states meet

A forum of six Arab states plus Turkey urged Israel on Tuesday to halt all settlement activity so Mideast peace negotiations can resume. The Damascus meeting, attended by officials from Syria, Turkey, Libya, Somalia, Qatar, Iraq and Sudan, comes at a time when Turkey's Islamic-rooted government is trying to balance an emerging role as a voice for Muslims with a continuing alliance with the West. Turkey also remains Israel's key Muslim ally. Israel announced a 10-month halt in most West Bank construction late last month in an attempt to restart peace talks. The Palestinians say the settlement freeze falls short because it does not include east Jerusalem or 3,000 homes already under construction in the West Bank.