State Dept. welcomes Arab League backing for more time

Arab League agrees to give US one month to revive talks, backs Abbas decision to stop negotiations if West Bank building continues.

Abbas Moussa 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Abbas Moussa 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Following the Arab League meeting Friday, US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley welcomed the group's backing for giving more time for peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians to take place. 
 "We appreciate the Arab League's statement of support for our efforts to create conditions that will allow direct talks to move forward," Crowley said in a statement. "We will continue to work with the parties, and all our international partners, to advance negotiations toward a two-state solution and encourage the parties to take constructive actions toward that end."
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Earlier Friday, foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League agreed to give the United States another month to try to persuade Israel to renew the moratorium on West Bank settlement construction and keep Mideast peace talks from collapsing.
The league also announced that it supports Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to stop peace talks with following Israel's refusal to halt building, according to Reuters.
"The Israeli government was given the choice between peace and settlements, and it has chosen settlements," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. "It (Israel) alone bears the responsibility for this."
"We support the Palestinian president's position calling for a complete halt of all settlement activities in order to resume negotiation," the Arab League's deputy Ahmad Bin Helli said as he read a statement issued after the ministerial meeting.
But the ministers also said they would resume meetings in a month to study alternatives and decide on next steps, giving the United States some breathing room.
Aides have said Abbas wants to avoid the impression that he is quitting talks, and instead sought to buy more time for US diplomacy. "The US effort should continue to safeguard what remains of the peace process," senior Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdaineh said.
"The Arab follow-up committee will convene another meeting in coming few weeks to study the alternatives and the ideas that were presented by the president," Rdainah told Reuters.
Radainah did not specify any of the "alternatives" mentioned by Abbas at the meeting.
The Israeli government had no immediate comment.
JPOST.COM Staff contributed to this report.