Sunday, March 28, 2010
Arab League can't decide whether to endorse talks with Iran or between Palestinians and Israelis
News from Libya that the Arab League was unable to agree whether to endorse indirect peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel should be no surprise to anyone after the PA expressed outrage over Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes near east Jerusalem. The league's two-day summit in Sirte ended abruptly after the 22 nations were unable to agree on either a new endorsement of the peace talks or on formulating a new approach to Iran, according to the Reuters international news service. The Arab League did endorse U.S.-mediated proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority earlier this month. "Within the next few weeks, we have to decide what to do: whether to continue with the negotiations or to completely shift course," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said at a news conference after the summit closed down. Moussa said Arab states were frustrated by the slow pace of negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah and would propose alternatives if there was no progress soon, Reuters said. "We cannot enter into a vicious circle to be added to the hundreds of previous vicious circles that will end in another zero result," Moussa said. "We are fed up with this." The stalemate is bad news for the stalled peace process, since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas probably will be reluctant to conduct substantive talks without the Arab League endorsement due to the threat from hardliners in his own community. Of course, there is no reason to expect anything from the Arab League if the Palestinians themselves are unwilling to pursue an actual peace agreement with Israel. And, of course, nothing is what came of the proposal before the Arab League to start talks with Tehran about Iran's nuclear program, Reuters said. Foreign ministers were unable to agree on their next step, even though Persian Gulf states near Iran had expressed concerns about problems if Tehran develops weapons or is prevented from doing so by Western states. "I do not believe the time has come where we can see that Iran has changed its behavior toward Arab countries," said Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. Iran has insisted that its nuclear development is intended solely for peaceful purposes, even though it doesn't make sense for the country with the world's third-largest oil reserves to pursue nuclear power to generate electricity.