Thursday, July 29, 2010

DTN News: Arabs Meet On Palestinian Peace Talks With Israel

Defense News: DTN News: Arabs Meet On Palestinian Peace Talks With Israel
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) CAIRO, Egypt - July 29, 2010: Arab officials began crucial talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Thursday to decide whether he will begin directnegotiations with Israel amid pressure from the United States.
Abbas was expected to present the results of the US-brokered indirect talks the Arab League approved in May for a four-month period to the meeting of foreign ministers and representatives.
Abbas has so far accepted holding only indirect talks with Israel, which has rejected his conditions for face-to-face negotiations.
Thursday's meeting is expected to back Abbas's condition that Israel guarantee a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 war borders between the Jewish state and east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
"The issue is not US pressure, the issue is what is in the Palestinians' interests," Arab League official Hisham Yussef, who heads Secretary General Amr Mussa's office, told AFP.
"Their interest from their perspective is clear -- they want to see progress in the proximity talks and we support them."
Abbas also wants an end to settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel acceded to US pressure to limit settlement building in the West Bank until September, when a moratorium ends.
The Palestinian leader repeated his conditions on the eve of the meeting in an interview with Egyptian newspaper editors, the official Egyptian MENA news agency reported on Thursday.
Abbas said he would tell the meeting that if there was "no serious vision relating to the 1967 borders and an end to settlements then I cannot enter direct negotiations.
"When I receive the demanded guarantees which are the acceptance of the 1967 borders and an end to settlements... I will immediately enter negotiations," MENA quoted Abbas as saying.
He said he was facing "pressures I have never faced before in my life from the American administration and the European Union and the secretary general of the United Nations," and added he would step down if he saw "matters are not going well."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is willing to meet Abbas to discuss all the core issues of the decades-old conflict, and has accused the Palestinians of avoiding engaging in direct talks.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told an Arab newspaper this week that US President Barack Obama told the Palestinians in a letter that he will help found a Palestinian state only if they begin direct talks with Israel.
Abbas suspended direct negotiations with Israel after its offensive on the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in December 2008 in response to rocket fire.
He has demanded that the talks pick up from where he left off with then prime minister Ehud Olmert, a condition rejected by Netanyahu's government.

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