Arab ministers hold talks in Israel

Arab League ministers discuss peace initative in Israel for the first time.

    Livni, centre, said the top-level meeting
    presented a "historic opportunity" [AFP] 
    The 22-member Arab League has asked the Egyptian and Jordanian ministers to persuade Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative.
    The plan was revised and re-adopted at a summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last March.
    It offers Israel the normalisation of ties with Arab nations in exchange for full withdrawal from Arab land occupied during the 1967 War, the creation of a Palestinian state and the return of refugees.
    Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's corespondent in the West Bank, said that many Arab diplomats were concerned that the "Arab initative will not be kept as a whole" but would instead be simply a "talking point".
    She said: "This peace process has been going on for almost 13 years and people are sick and tired of hearing about meetings and negotiations and conferences without seeing concrete results."
    Turning point
    Israel has cast the arrival of the Egyptian and Jordanian envoys as a potential turning point in relations with the Arab League, which has long shunned the Jewish state.
    The Arab League, though, has made clear that the meeting does not represent a normalisation of relations with Israel.
    Instead is is being undertaken by minsters from the only two Arab countries to have already sign peace agreements with the Jewish state.
    Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported on Wednesday that Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, was proposing talks with the Palestinians about "an agreement of principles" that could establish a Palestinian state.
    Officials have said that Olmert was ready to start discussing in "general terms" core issues, including borders, with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
    But they made clear it was premature to start detailed "final-status" negotiations.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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