Arab Ministers: No Peace Progress? It's Israel's Fault
An Arab ministerial committee charged with monitoring the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday blamed Israel for the impasse in negotiations.
"Israel is responsible for the deep crisis in negotiations because of its intensifying of settlements (construction), repeated attacks against the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem), seizing of Palestinian lands, and strengthening the blockade against Gaza," it said in a statement released following a meeting and quoted by AFP.
The committee, which is chaired by Qatar and includes 13 Arab countries, met in Kuwait on the sidelines of the Arab-African summit in the presence of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The latest round of peace talks between Israel and the PA began this past summer at the urging of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
However, so far little progress has been made in talks and there is a wide rift between the positions of the two sides.
The PA has repeatedly slammed Israel’s planned construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was informed in advance that Israel will continue to build as talks continue. The areas in which Israel plans to build are areas that even the PA has previously accepted will be part of Israel in a future deal.
Abbas last week delivered an ultimatum to Israel, saying that unless it cancels tenders for 20,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria he would end the ongoing peace talks.
He later announced that PA peace negotiators intend to pull out of peace talks because of "increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results."
On Sunday, however, Abbas appeared to change his tune, telling AFP that talks with Israel will continue for the full nine months as agreed with Washington "regardless of what happens on the ground."
Meanwhile, the PA has continued to incite against Israel. On Sunday, Abbas’s Fatah faction declared that it considers “settlements” to be a crime against humanity and called on the Israeli government not to waste time by placing obstacles in the way of the talks.