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Arab League says it will continue support for PA in negotiations

April 9, 2014 9:34 P.M. (Updated: April 10, 2014 10:51 A.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- The Arab League has decided to support the Palestinian Authority in continuing negotiations until the end of April as was previously agreed upon, amid a crisis in ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Wednesday the Arab League called on US Secretary of State John Kerry to exert pressure on Israel to fulfill its commitments before the end of peace talks.

Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyadh al-Malki said in a press conference after the meeting that the Arab leaders had also agreed to provide financial support for the PA in case Israel goes through with threats it has made in the last week to unleash sanctions on the Palestinians if they do not extend the talks deadline of April 29.

The comments come amid a near breakdown in talks, after Israel refused to release a group of Palestinian prisoners as previously agreed-upon if the Palestinians refused to extend talk beyond the deadline.

After Israel breached the agreement, the Palestinians filed letters to accede to 15 international conventions, which led Israel to announce that it would impose sanctions on the Palestinians as it considers the move an attempt to seek international recognition and potential intervention by Palestinians.

Despite this, the PA is committed to negotiations until the end of the month, al-Malki said.

"From now until the 29th we do not know what will happen. There are US efforts to extend negotiations," he said, stressing that he was unsure if Israel might potentially release the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners.

Al-Malki said that there is a financial safety net that would provide $100 million if needed, adding that if Israel stops transferring PA tax funds, then Arab ministers would provide the needed funds to pay government employees' salaries.

Al-Malki added that a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the presence of the US delegation will be held on Thursday in Jerusalem.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.

Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations began.
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