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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arab League endorses direct Israel-PA talks; Abbas wants guarantees of outcome

Arab League endorses direct Israel-PA talks

Palestinian President Abbas tells senior Arab officials convening in Cairo he refuses to enter direct peace talks without guarantees for independent state; Qatari FM says League agrees in principle to direct negotiations

Roee Nahmias

Published:  07.29.10,

Arab officials convening in Cairo began crucial talks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Thursday to decide whether he will begin direct negotiations with Israel amid pressure from the United States.


Qatar's foreign minister said the Arab League has agreed in principle to direct Palestinian talks with Israel.


In his speech, Abbas told 13 foreign ministers from Arab countries representing the Arab League that he would not agree to direct talks without a guarantee for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 war borders and an end to all settlement activity.


Asked if the league would back direct talks, Hamad ibn Jassem said: "Of course, there is agreement, but agreement over the principles of what will be discussed and the manner of the direct negotiations."


It would be up to Abbas to decide whether to hold talks, based on whatever conditions he sees fit, Jassem said.


The official Egyptian news agency MENA quoted the Palestinian leader as saying ahead of the meeting, "When I receive the demanded guarantees, which are the acceptance of the 1967 borders and an end to settlements... I will immediately enter negotiations."


Egypt said Wednesday it has received US assurances that may help in restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.