Arab States to US: ‘Don’t Close Door to Peace’

Members of the Arab League’s “Followup Committee” don’t want the United States to “close the door” to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the AFP news service Monday after meeting with his counterpart in Romania, Teodor Baconschi, that Arab states do not want the U.S. to abandon its efforts to help the PA and Israel reach a final status agreement.

Aboul Gheit, who is also touring Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria, spoke in anticipation of news that the U.S. and Israel could not reach agreement on a new 90-day freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.

A senior U.S. official told reporters Tuesday night that “in the days and weeks ahead” the U.S. will instead engage with Israel and the PA, as well as with Arab states in the region, to discuss the “core substantive issues.”

The official stepped delicately around the issue of who was to blame for the current breakdown in talks between Israel and the PA. Both parties will be invited for future meetings in Washington D.C. However, the official was mum on what the format would be or what time frame would be involved.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian foreign minister expressed the Arab League’s frustration with the breakdown in the process.

“Arab countries and members of the peace Follow-up Committee feel that they have not to close the door and to allow the American effort a further opportunity or possibility,” Aboul Gheit told reporters at a news conference.

“But the moment of truth will be reached soon and the Arab peace committee will have to convene in order to look into the situation and then they will decide which of the available options to pursue,” he added. Aboul Gheit did not say when that might happen, nor did he indicate which options he thought might be preferred.

Barely one month ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned to Israel with an agreement in hand that secured American incentives in exchange for a painful 90-day extension of a moratorium on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.

However, the U.S. government failed to follow up the agreement by documenting the assurances in writing – creating mistrust in both the Israeli and PA publics – and resistance on the part of the Israeli cabinet.


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