Moussa: 'No normalization for free'

Arab League chief says Arabs going to conference to show support for Palestinians, based on Arab plan.

Amr Moussa 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Amr Moussa 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Arab League Secretary General said early on Friday that Arab countries would not offer Israel "normalization for free" during the upcoming US-sponsored Mideast peace conference. Amr Moussa remarks were made shortly after midnight at the end of an informal gathering of some 11 Arab foreign ministers at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo ahead of a key league meeting to hammer out a unified Arab position on the Annapolis conference. "There is nothing called a normalization for free," Moussa told reporters at the end of the meeting. "Arabs are going to participate in the (Annapolis) meeting, to show support for the Palestinians, based on the Arab peace initiative," he added. The ministers are calling for the Arab peace initiative, a proposal offering full peace with Israel for a full withdrawal from all territories captured in the Six Day War, to be a basis for the talks. Many Arab leaders have voiced skepticism about the upcoming conference, warning that it would be little more than a photo opportunity and a chance for Israel to "normalize" with its neighbors without offering any substantive concessions. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, however, said that Annapolis meeting will revive the stalled peace process. "We, as a Palestinian party, have witnessed a seven year frozen political process," Erekat said at the end of the meeting. "Now the question is not whether should we go or not, but the strategic question is how will we go as Arabs?" "We want peace, but it won't be for whatever price," he added and referred to the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of east Jerusalem and the future of Palestinian refugees as preconditions for peace. The attendance of Saudi Arabia and Syria remains unclear and much of the late night discussion revolved around the Syrian demand that the fate of the Golan Heights be high on the Annapolis agenda, according to diplomats present. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem spent hours trying to convince his counterparts that the conference should include an attempt to re-launch the long frozen Syrian-Israeli peace talks. During Friday's meeting, the ministers will be briefed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before drafting a final, unified Arab statement on the conference.