Skip to main content

Arab League backs Palestinian leader on peace talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, left, listens to Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani on Friday in Libya.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, left, listens to Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani on Friday in Libya.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arab nations: Talks are contingent on halt to settlement building
  • U.S. is trying to salvage direct peace talks between Israel, Palestinians
  • Palestinians want U.S. to pressure Israel over settlements
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- Arab nations meeting in Libya said they will support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to refrain from direct peace talks unless Israel stops settlement construction.

"Restarting negotiations is conditional to the complete stop of settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem," according to a statement issued Friday from the Arab League Ministerial Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative.

"The Israeli government is responsible for halting the direct negotiations ... as a result of its continued unlawful settlement policy."

The Israeli prime minister's office had no immediate comment on the developments in Libya.

The statement supported U.S. peacemaking efforts and President Barack Obama's speech at the U.N. General Assembly last month regarding Palestinian rights.

It also called for a "U.S. recognition of an independent Palestinian state with pre-June 4, 1967, borders and east Jerusalem as its capital." The statement also said there won't be "real peace with Israel" unless the Jewish state withdraws from occupied Arab lands, including Syria's occupied Golan and Palestinian territory.

The statement said the international community should "take necessary steps" to end Israel's blockade of Gaza and it called for ending political differences among Palestinians.

The peace initiative committee comprises the foreign ministers of Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Abbas, told CNN on Friday that all the efforts should be focused on settlement activities and that the United States should pressure Israel to halt all the settlement activities.

He also said Abbas will be delivering an important speech during the Arab League summit this weekend.

The United States had been scrambling to find a way to save the recently started direct Middle East peace talks ahead of the Arab League meeting in Libya this weekend.

U.S., Israeli, Palestinian and Arab sources say intensive negotiations continue between the United States and Israel to find a formula on Israel's construction of new settlements that will keep Abbas at the talks.

Sources said the Obama administration has floated a possible set of assurances the United States could offer if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would agree to extend a freeze on new settlements.

CNN's Amir Ahmed and Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

 
Quick Job Search