Palestinians expect Arab nod on indirect negotiation

09:40, March 01, 2010      

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by Fares Akram, Emad Drimly

A Palestinian official on Sunday expected that Arab leaders would okay indirect talks between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel.

On Tuesday, an Arab League's committee would meet in Cairo to make a decision on a U.S. offer to mediate indirect talks between Israel and the PNA on the borders of the future Palestinian state.

"I think the meeting will come out with a conditional acceptance on the U.S. proposal," Hanna Amira, a member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Xinhua.

The Arabs would ask Washington to clarify its stance if the indirect talks failed and to oblige Israel to stop "its aggressive measures" in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would attend the "decisive meeting," Amira said.

Months of face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians failed to make progress as the PNA blames Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on blocking the progress. Israel's three-week assault in the Gaza Strip, began in December 2008, stopped the negotiations.

George Mitchell, the U.S. Middle East envoy, carried the proposal in a bid to push the stalled peace process. According to Amira, Washington has verbally responded to Abbas' clarification on the offer and neglected the central question about its position if the mediated negotiations failed.

"It has been agreed that these (indirect) talks should not take more than three months," Amira said.

Meanwhile, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called for punishing the PNA's official if any sort of negotiations with Israel resumed.

"The Palestinian stance today is not to return to the negotiations in any form," said Khaleda Jarrar of the PFLP's politburo. "If direct or indirect talks restarted, the responsible Palestinians must be punished."

Sources said the indirect negotiations may start in the middle of March. For Jarrar, such resumption is considered a fallback as there would be talks with Israel which is continuing building settlements in the occupied territories.

Efforts to revive the peace process come as violence flared up between Israeli police and Palestinian stone-throwers in East Jerusalem which the Palestinians see as their future capital.

The clashes began when Israeli police raided a courtyard near al-Aqsa mosque in the city to disperse some 30 Palestinians who tried to prevent a radical Jewish group from entering the area. About 12 Palestinians suffered from tear gas.

Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesman for President Abbas, said the tension in Jerusalem "was part of a war Israeli waged to evade from political obligations."

"Israel carries out these provocations as we wait to see an answer to the U.S. efforts to resume negotiations and on the eve of the Arab League's committee meeting to decide on the talks," he added.

The Palestinians stepped up their protests in the West Bank last week after Israel decided to add Tomb of the Patriarchs ( Sanctuary of Abraham) in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites.

Source: Xinhua
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