Arab League: Progress still possible in deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian talks

League says US has relevant role in advancing peace process; Abbas calls emergency meeting with Arab foreign ministers.

Abbas at Arab League summit (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas at Arab League summit
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Arab League accused Israel on Monday of lacking a "real desire" to reach peace with the Palestinians, however, the body stated that it believes that progress is still possible in the currently deadlocked talks.
“We still think that the United States has a role in pushing the peace process forward,” Palestinian media quoted Arab League deputy secretary-general Ahmed Ben Helli as saying in a statement.
"Israeli facts on the ground indicate that the Israeli negotiator has no real desire to advance peace," the statement added.
The 22-member body condemned attempts to pressure the Palestinians to extend peace talks with Israel.
According to Helli's communique, the Arab leaders rejected attempts to pressure the Palestinians to refrain from seeking membership in international bodies, saying the Palestinians had a "genuine right" to do so.
The League instead was urging pressure to be exerted on Israel to uphold to its commitment to go through with the release of a fourth batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners that was set for March 29.
The US-brokered negotiations plunged into crisis last week after Israel, demanding a Palestinian commitment to continue talking after the end of the month, failed to carry out the  promised release.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded by signing 15 global treaties, including the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and occupations, on behalf of the State of Palestine, a defiant move that surprised Washington and angered Israel.
Abbas was set to meet on Tuesday with Arab foreign ministers at the League headquarters in Cairo to discuss the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process.
Abbas's meeting with the Arab League was due to follow a meeting between Israeli, Palestinian and US negotiators scheduled for Monday night.
Helli said he expected the Arab leaders to support the Palestinian position presented during the emergency meeting requested by the PA.
“Undoubtedly, the developments  the Palestinian issue is witnessing and the deadlock of the peace process will be the subject for debate,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.