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Arab League mulls withdrawing peace initiative

March 25, 2010 12:23 A.M. (Updated: March 26, 2010 10:15 A.M.)
Bethelehem - Ma'an - Terminating the Arab Peace Initiative will be on the Arab League summit's agenda in Libya this weekend, its secretary-general, Amr Moussa, said Wednesday.

In a statement released before traveling to Sirte, Libya ahead of the summit, Moussa said it was futile to continue dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following recent developments in Jerusalem, and that Israel's "hardline stance" would not push Arab League conveners into "giving up on Jerusalem."

Withdrawal from the initiative will be put before conveners, with all members participating this year "without exception," Moussa said, adding that "most countries will be represented by the highest levels of leadership."

"We have been following recent developments in Palestine and Israeli practices in Jerusalem. The Arab submit will review all facts and developments and we will see what the Arab League summit will yield," Moussa said.

The initiative, launched in Beirut in 2002, proposes to normalize relations with Israel, within the context of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The decision to discuss the initiative's revocation follows a string of announcements by the Israeli government to continue settlement building and expansion in occupied East Jerusalem, including an Israeli-only unit in the flashpoint Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that he will participate in the Arab League summit amid what he called a crisis of confidence surrounding Israel’s plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem, the UN reported.

“I say again, here, what I have been repeatedly saying: that settlements are illegal under international law. This must stop,” Ban told journalists in New York following Israel's announcement to build in Sheikh Jarrah.

Moussa made known that US-brokered proximity talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government had been derailed in early March, following the Israeli Interior Ministry's decision to build 1,600 Israeli-only homes in East Jerusalem during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to renew stalled peace talks.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that Israel's most recent decision to build on occupied Palestinian land in Jerusalem is damaging Israel's credibility as a serious partner for peace and are further attempts to erase the Palestinian presence in the city.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the US administration believes Israel's continued building in Jerusalem is destructive to the peace process, The Associated Press reported.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman said Tuesday that there will be no peace or stability without a Palestinian Jerusalem, reiterating the PA's stance that the body will not enter into talks with Israel until settlement construction is brought to an end in the city.
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