Arab League chief: No peace talks if Israel starts building

Amr Moussa says Israel must extend West Bank building freeze on territory that Palestinians want as for future state.

Barkan settlement 311 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Barkan settlement 311
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
UNITED NATIONS — The newly started direct peace talks with the Palestinians will fail unless Israel extends a partial ban on settlement building in the West Bank, territory the Palestinians want for a future state, Arab League chief Amr Moussa warned.
Moussa also reacted angrily Friday to a vote earlier in the day in the UN nuclear agency in Vienna that defeated an Arab call for Israel to join the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
RELATED:PA may not bolt talks after all when freeze endsAbbas could stay in talks even if settlement freeze endsQuartet to call on Israel to extend settlement freeze
Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations annual summit in New York, Moussa said "negotiations could not proceed if building of settlements continued on the occupied West Bank because it would threaten the territorial integrity of the new state of Palestine."
"Negotiations cannot go with settlements," he said.
"If they continue eroding the territorial integrity of the Palestinian lands, if they continue changing the demographic composition of the territories, why are the negotiations conducted, why are we wasting time?" Moussa asked.
Earlier in the week, Moussa met with senior diplomats from the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the US, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — to discuss a way forward in the talks. The Quartet also has called on Israel to extend its settlement freeze.
Moussa indirectly criticized the United States and other Western nations, claiming they were continuing to support Israel's intransigence.
"Defending Israel on everything, even (against) calling on Israel to join the Nonproliferation Treaty, is something very, very strange and does not augur well to building confidence," he said.
He said the Arab effort to get the 151-nation UN nuclear agency to urge Israel to join the international nuclear treaty to which all other states in the Middle East belong, failed after a "worldwide campaign" by Israel's western allies to prevent this.
The resolution was defeated earlier Friday by a five-vote margin at the agency's meeting. "We see nothing wrong (in calling) for Israel to join the NPT as part of efforts to make the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons," Moussa told reporters.
"Why should Israel be the only one? The answer is of course no, it shouldn't be the only one. In fact, there should be no nuclear power in the Middle East," he said.
"This is a recipe for chaos and for an arms race in the Middle East."