Last updated: 12 February, 2012

Arabs support Palestinian call for peace conference

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday supported a Palestinian request for an international peace conference aimed at reaching a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a statement after talks, they stressed “the importance of holding an international peace conference on the Palestinian issue.”

The international meeting would seek “an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories and to reach a comprehensive solution to the issues of borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees based on the Arab peace initiative.”

The statement came after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas addressed the Arab League’s Follow-Up Committee, which tracks Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The League statement also called on its members to contribute financially to support the Palestinian Authority with $100 million a month.

The 22-member body said the funds were needed “in light of the financial strain on the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people, with Israel not transferring the rightful money of the Palestinian Authority.”

The Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas has warned of financial crisis many times in recent months, in part because aid pledges by Arab nations have not been paid on time.

Speaking before Abbas addressed the organisation, Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmad said the delegation would seek backing for an international peace conference, without giving further details.

“One of the proposals we will request from the Arab Follow-Up Committee is for a call to convene an international peace conference on the Palestinian issue,” Ahmad told AFP in Ramallah by telephone.

Abbas addressed the organisation on Sunday afternoon, and warned that the current stalemate in negotiations with Israel could not continue.

“We will send letters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and world leaders to determine the basis and the terms for the resumption of negotiations,” he said.

He warned that if Israel failed to respond, the Palestinians would forge ahead instead with attempts to gain recognition as a full member of the United Nations, a bid opposed by the Jewish state.

Abbas also warned that the continued deadlock could have dire consequences for the Palestinian Authority.

“The current situation cannot continue as it is, that of an Authority without power,” he said.

Abbas was in Cairo after five rounds of “exploratory” talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman.

The discussions were sponsored by the peacemaking Quartet and intended to chart a return to direct negotiations, but they ended without a deal to continue talks.

The Palestinians say Israel failed to present its parameters for territory and security, as requested by the Quartet, and that they will not hold direct talks without a freeze of Israeli settlement activity.

They also want discussions on borders to be based on the lines that preceded the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel has urged the Palestinians to begin direct negotiations without preconditions.

The Quartet, which comprises the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, has also said it wants to see talks resume, but officials — including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon — have called on Israel to provide the Palestinians with goodwill gestures in a bid to lure them back to talks.