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      Arab League Blames Israel Before Talks Even Start

      Arab League says it supports the resumption of peace talks, but says it's "skeptical of Israeli intentions."
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 7/22/2013, 1:16 AM

      Arab League meeting in Doha
      Arab League meeting in Doha
      AFP photo

      The Arab League said on Sunday it supported the Palestinian Authority’s stance on the announcement of resumed peace talks with Israel, but that it was skeptical of Israeli intentions, reported AFP.

      The League "is forming a political support network for the Palestinian side in case it accepts to go to the negotiations with the Israeli side," Mohammed Sabih, deputy secretary general for Palestinian affairs, told reporters.

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Israeli and PA negotiators will meet in Washington within "the next week or so" after an agreement on the basis to resume peace talks.

      The Arab League had its doubts about Israel's position on the resumption of peace talks, Sabih said, according to AFP.

      "Many in the Israeli government do not want an Arab peace initiative," he claimed.

      The Arab Peace Initiative, unveiled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

      It was recently revived when Qatar’s Prime Minister indicated that he supported a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that would be defined by the June 4, 1967 borders, but at the same time backed U.S. President Barack Obama's proposals for a "comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land" between Israel and the PA, to reflect the realities of the burgeoning communities on the ground.

      Sabih added that the Arab League was monitoring Israel's stance so the talks were not simply "negotiations for the sake of negotiations, going round in a vicious circle".

      "This could be the last chance to revive the stalled peace process," he noted.

      Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Sunday that the PA leadership has still not decided to return to negotiations with Israel. The decision depends on the PA's receiving clarifications on certain matters that are still unresolved, he said, and some of these are “substantive.”

      Speaking with Voice of Palestine radio, Abed Rabbo said that the United States negotiators have promised to give the PA negotiators answers to their questions in the meeting that is planned to take place in Washington at week's end, between the PA's Saeb Erekat and Israel's Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho.