Exclusive: Arab League to back indirect Mideast talks

By Ali Sawafta

RAMALLAH, West Bank (BestGrowthStock) – The Arab League will on Wednesday announce its backing for a U.S. proposal for indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, a senior source attending an Arab League meeting in Cairo told Reuters.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is attending the meeting, had said he would adhere to any decision made by the Arab League ministerial committee that convened this week in the Egyptian capital.

“Most of the talks that happened yesterday were positive. The statement will include agreement on the holding of indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the source, who declined to be named, said.

The United States has been trying for a year to get the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.

Abbas had resisted U.S. and Israeli calls for a resumption of direct negotiations, saying Israel must first halt all Jewish settlement building on lands where the Palestinians aim to establish a state.

Palestinian officials have downplayed the significance of the idea of indirect talks tabled by Washington, arguing that U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy over the past year has amounted to just that.

Abbas broke off negotiations with Israel in protest at its offensive in the Gaza Strip launched in December 2008.

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(Writing by Tom Perry: Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Exclusive: Arab League to back indirect Mideast talks