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Middle East
Arabs rule out new peace talks
Arab League ministers demand "serious offer" after Washington ends attempts to push Israel into settlement freeze.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2010 01:12 GMT
Qatar's foreign minister, front left, accused the US of having 'abandoned its pledges' [AFP]

Arab foreign ministers have said there will be no more negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis unless the United States makes a "serious offer" for resolving the conflict.

"The negotiation track between the Palestinians and Israelis is futile," a statement released after a meeting of Arab League minister meeing in Cairo on Wednesday said.

"There is no return to talks. Any resumption is conditioned on a serious offer that ensures the end to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the peace process references."

The US last week abandoned attempts to persuade Israel to freeze settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Direct talks, brokered in September, have been stalled since the Palestinians refused to take part over Israel's failure to extend a 10-month moratorium on the construction of the settlements, which are illegal under international law.

The Arab ministers said Washington's failure on the issue "demands that the American administration declares clearly the two states' borders be based on the 1967 borders".

Israel captured the land that the Palestinians want for an independent state - the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - during the 1967 Middle East war. 

'Two-way conversations'

The US has said it will now concentrate on mediating indirect talks between the two sides over the so-called "core issues" - including the borders of a Palestinian state, the future of East Jerusalem and security arrangements.

Earlier on Wednesday, George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, said: "In the days ahead, our discussions with both sides will be substantive, two-way conversations with an eye towards making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement."

But Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister and prime minister, questioned whether any talks could be successful after Washington abandoned its proposal on settlements.

"There is a real problem facing the peace process especially given that the American mediator has abandoned its pledges and adopted the Israeli point of view," he said after chairing the Arab League meeting.

The Arab ministers have said that they could now take the settlements issue to the UN security council.

"We know there will be an American veto if we go to the security council but this veto will not stop us from going," al-Thani said.

Source:
Agencies
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