Arabs to seek alternatives for stalled peace talks

Reuters | Oct 8, 2010 | 6:57pm IST

Arab leaders will begin drafting alternatives for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because the current round of talks has stalled, Arab League Secretary-General Amir Moussa said on Friday. "We will meet to formulate the beginning of alternatives within the framework that the negotiations are not bearing fruit," Moussa said after a meeting of the Arab League’s peace process follow-up committee in Libya.

"There are no talks at the moment because the position of the Israelis is very, very negative. They are not cooperating in the negotiations," Moussa said. The committee would meet the Palestinian delegation on Friday night but would not advise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas what he should do next, Moussa said.

The Arab League foreign ministers met in the Libyan town of Sirte to hear Abbas’s case for suspending talks with Israel until it extends a moratorium on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Launched in Washington just five weeks ago, the talks veered into a dead end on Sept. 26 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentayhu refused to extend a halt to construction of Jewish settlements, which he had said would last 10 months.

Abbas spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdainah said earlier the Palestinian leader would tell the Arab states that, "resuming negotiations requires a full freeze of settlement activities". Abbas has said he wants to go on negotiating but cannot unless the building of new homes for Jewish settlers is frozen for "three to four months more to give peace a chance.”

Palestinians regard settlement expansion as a threat to chances of a viable state on land Israel captured in a 1967 war. Netanyahu says it would be tragic if Abbas walked away over an issue, which he says, were irrelevant to the possible outcome of talks — a peace deal to end 60 years of conflict and create a Palestinian state.

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