The Arab League is waiting to see if the Obama administration will offer it further inducements to entice the Palestinian Authority into direct talks, but it likely will reject direct talks with Israel based on the ”Clinton freeze,” an official said Monday.
“If the news is true about there being a settlement freeze that excludes Jerusalem and that takes the criticism off Israel, I cannot imagine that would be acceptable to the Palestinian side or the Arab side,” Hesham Youssef, an official with the office of the secretary general of the Arab League, told the German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The United States has offered Israel 20 fighter planes, a verbal guarantee to veto United Nations resolutions against Israel, and a verbal promise that a 90-day freeze on building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria will be non-renewable. The U.S. plan is said to call for Israel and the PA to reach agreement within 90 days on final borders for a PA country on the land of Judea and Samaria and areas in Jerusalem – though some American officials have denied that pressure will be placed on Israel in this regard.
The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League have said the freeze must include all areas of Jerusalem that it demands as part of a PA state, including the Temple Mount and adjacent Western Wall, all of the Old City, and “neighborhoods in northern and eastern Jerusalem where 300,000 Jews live.
Like the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League has not rejected the proposal, but is rather holding out for additional offers, such as compensation, guarantees on its desired borders and its demand that five million foreign Arabs can move to Israel, on the basis of claims that they or their parents and grandparents lived in the country – known as the “right of return.” The demand is part of the Saudi 2002 Initiative and has been regarded by almost every Israeli political leader as being aimed at eliminating Israel as a Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to iron out details of the freeze in language that will pass his Cabinet, where nearly half of the ministers oppose it, fearing it will be a trap for Israel to make further concessions that would endanger its security.
U.S. President Barack Obama has maintained his position that Israel’s surrendering all of Judea and Samaria and dividing Jerusalem with the PA is good for the security of both Israel and the United States.