The Arab League, as expected, on Wednesday blamed Israel for the impasse in the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), and called on the United States to keep up efforts to salvage the talks.
At a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, the Arab League said Israel was responsible for the “serious predicament” facing the negotiations, citing its failure to release about two dozen terrorist prisoners as one of the major causes, reported the Lebanese Daily Star.
“[The ministers] called on America to continue its efforts for the resumption of the negotiation track that obliges Israel to implement its commitments … according to the agreed time frame,” a League statement said.
The Ma’an news agency reported that the PA’s foreign minister, Riyadh al-Malki, said in a press conference after the meeting that the Arab leaders had also agreed to provide financial support for the PA, in the wake of the sanctions that Israel imposed after the PA unilaterally turned to the United Nations.
Israel last Thursday informed the PA of a series of punitive measures against it, following the PA’s request to join 15 international conventions, ahead of becoming a member of various UN bodies. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued instructions to government ministries forbidding meetings with PA officials, and halting all civilian and economic cooperation with the PA.
Despite the impasse in the talks, the PA is committed to negotiations until the end of the month, al-Malki said, according to Ma’an.
"From now until the 29th we do not know what will happen. There are U.S. efforts to extend negotiations," he said, stressing that he was unsure if Israel might potentially release the fourth batch of terrorists.
Al-Malki said that there is a financial safety net that would provide $100 million if needed, adding that if Israel stops transferring PA tax funds, then Arab ministers would provide the needed funds to pay government employees' salaries.
He added that a meeting between Israeli and PA negotiators in the presence of American mediators will be held on Thursday in Jerusalem.