The Arab League has expressed its support for a US proposal regarding indirect Middle East peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Members of the Arab League said on Wednesday that they would review the results of the negotiations after four months, and insisted that direct talks could not begin until Israel completely halted all settlement constructions beyond the 1967 borders, including those in East Jerusalem (Al-Quds).
Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, who is attending the Arab League meeting in Cairo, said he would adhere to any decision made by the Arab League ministerial committee.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, however, said his country objected to the declaration.
‘There was no consensus on the statement … This is a Palestinian decision. My country’s delegation said the Arab Peace Initiative does not authorize such an approval," al-Muallem said.
Arab League members in 2002, and again in 2007, offered Israel full diplomatic recognition in exchange for its complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories it occupied and annexed in 1967, and a promising solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced or forced to flee from their homes during the Israeli-Arab wars in 1948 and 1967.
Many of the Palestinians who survived the Israeli aggression crammed into overcrowded enclaves, mainly in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Some of the refugees still retain old deeds and keys to homes now occupied by Israelis. The Palestinians base their claim to the right to return on United Nations General Assembly resolution 194, which was passed in 1948.
However, Israelis have long called for the refugees to be absorbed into their Arab host countries. But most of the Arab nations have refused, wishing neither to capitulate to Israeli demands nor to upset the demographic balances of their own populations.