Sunday, October 10, 2010

How much do the Arabs really want peace?


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Libya on Thursday [7th October] to seek Arab League backing for his decision to quit direct talks with Israel until the settlement construction moratorium is renewed, amid no signs that the US and Israel have a formula in hand to break the impasse.

...“We honored the government decision and took upon ourselves a commitment to the international community and the US to start the peace talks,” Netanyahu said of the 10- month moratorium that ended nearly two weeks ago. “The Palestinians waited over nine months and, immediately at the onset of the talks, set a precondition even though they had promised that there would be no preconditions.”

The prime minister said that just as his government honored its commitment regarding the settlement moratorium, “we very much hope that the Palestinians will stay in the peace talks.”

But, said Netanyahu during a visit to Lod, “Today, the questions need to be directed to the Palestinians: Why are you abandoning the talks? Don’t turn your backs on peace; stay in the talks. This is what needs to be asked today, and not of the Israeli government.”

...The US administration, [Ambassador to the US Michael] Oren acknowledged, “came to Israel with a number of suggestions, incentives if you would, that would enable the government to maybe pass a limited extension of two or three months.”

...In Jerusalem, meanwhile, the widespread assessment was that the Arab League would back Abbas’s decision to leave the talks if Israel did not declare another settlement freeze, or did not declare that it would accept the principle of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, borders. what was perhaps a sign of low expectations in Jerusalem of any dramatic breakthrough, no meeting of the security cabinet or Netanyahu’s senior decision-making forum, the septet, had been scheduled for Friday.

...The Arab foreign ministers will be meeting in the Libyan city of Serte on Friday.

...[a top PA] official said that Abbas did not want to bear sole responsibility for whatever happens with the peace talks. “We want an Arab decision,” he added. “We don’t want the decision to be taken only by the Palestinian leadership.”

Despite the tone of optimism voiced by the official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a PLO leader and close adviser to Abbas, was quoted by Agence France-Press as saying that there can be no peace as long as Netanyahu is in power...
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