Moussa: 'Talks being held on UN-led peace process'

Arab League secretary general tells Fox News Radio that settlements are "make or break" issue; says Hamas in favor of Palestinian state.

Amr Moussa 311 ap (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Amr Moussa 311 ap
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Serious discussions are being held between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Arab League member nations on bringing Middle East peace talks directly to the United Nations, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said in an interview with Fox News Radio on Monday.
Moussa said that the League will give the US a chance to break the current stalemate in negotiations, but that he sees no reason why the peace process should not be led by the UN.
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The secretary general told Fox News, "This is year 20 of the peace process that started in Madrid in 1991. So after 20 years we have seen everything. We have seen a lot of promises and a lot of commitments oral and otherwise. We find that we cannot continue along the same path, building our position on whatever promises are coming from whatever direction."
He stressed that, "What we need is a serious commitment, a serious process, a time frame and no changes should be allowed within the occupied territories, which is the subject of the negotiations."
He said settlements were still the "make or break" issue in negotiations.
Asked whether the Palestinians will seek UN approval for a Palestinian state and whether the Arab League would back this decision, Moussa said, "I'll tell you in all candor that the prevailing view is that the peace process has failed...You have heard President Abbas before yesterday talking about a lot of alternatives. The first alternative in his opinion is to proceed on the path of negotiations but on the basis that we have explained - no settlements then the negotiations will go on."
"One of the most important alternatives is to get back to the United Nations. Back in 1991, after Madrid we were told that the best way was to have an honest broker that would help bring the two parties together with suggestions, with proposals, with maps with advice, to help the two parties move on. This did not happen. So why not think of bringing back the file to the United Nations?" Moussa said.
Asked what the most effective strategy for the Palestinians was - choosing between a UN resolution on settlements or asking the UN directly for recognition of Palestinian statehood - Moussa said that stating the settlements are illegal is important but that it is only a "reaffirmation of a position" and that the peace process had to be considered as a whole and not just one element of it.
"You heard the minister of foreign affairs for France, Kouchner, saying if there is no way to declare, to reach the establishment of the Palestinian state through negotiations, there is no way but to go to the Security Council and declare the establishment of a Palestinian state."
Regarding Hamas joining the peace process, Moussa said that its leaders have indicated on several occasions that they are in favor of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
"If the situation continues there has to be a reconciliation. Hamas has declared they are not going to get in the way of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] negotiating if he can come back with an offer for a referendum, then everybody can participate in this referendum."
Moussa also told Fox News that, "No Arab government can advise Abu Mazen to accept anything less than a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," and that Jerusalem is also a deal breaker issue.