Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:15 am (KSA) 21:15 pm (GMT)

Arabs call for guarantees for direct Mideast talks

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Arab League chief Amr Mussa said on Sunday that Palestinians could not move to from indirect to direct talks with Israel without written guarantees.

"We cannot automatically move from one negotiation to another without written guarantees," said Mussa, whose 22-member pan-Arab organization backed indirect talks between Israel and Palestinians in May.

He made his comments after meeting US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and after Mitchell, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held separate talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

 We cannot automatically move from one negotiation to another without written guarantees 
Arab League chief Amr Mussa

Mussa, who met with Abbas on Saturday, said he thought the Palestinian leader was committed to Arab League conditions for resuming direct talks, which include an end to settlement building in occupied Palestinian lands.

"I felt the Palestinian president was committed to the decisions of the ministerial council that the automatic transition from indirect to direct negotiations is not feasible," he said.

The Arab League first backed the talks in March but then endorsed the Palestinians' refusal to go ahead with them after Israel announced plans to build more Jewish homes in mainly Arab east Jerusalem.

It supported them again a month later after the Palestinians said they had received unspecified assurances from the United States.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967, for the capital of their promised state.

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