No Talks Unless Israeli Settlements Halted: Arab League

CAIRO

THERE should be no Israeli-Palestinian talks, direct or indirect, unless Israel halts plans to build 1,600 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, the Arab League said.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa told reporters that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had told him he would not take part in talks in the current circumstances.

“The Israeli measures must be stopped before any discussion on a resumption of talks, direct or indirect,” between Israel and the Palestinians, the Arab League said a statement on Wednesday.

The statement came after an emergency meeting of ambassadors of the Arab League’s 13 member states.

“If the measures taken by the Israelis for the construction of hundreds of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, are not halted immediately, the proposed talks would be useless,” it said.

Mussa told reporters: “Our position is clear: there cannot be talks, direct or indirect, if the recent Israeli decisions are not cancelled,” referring to Tuesday’s announcement on settlements by the interior ministry.

If the situation had not changed in the next two or three days, another meeting of the Arab League committee following the peace talks would be called, he added.

Israel’s green light to the settlements came just as US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, having just managed to get a resumption of indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Biden has already denounced the Israeli move, warning that the settlements risked undermining the new talks.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also attacked the Israeli move in a statement issued Tuesday, saying the settlements were illegal under international law.

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