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LAS hails US efforts to resume Palestinian-Israeli talks

July 21, 2013, 22:30 UTC+3

The League is forming a system of political control for Palestine in case it makes the decision to start negotiations with Israel

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CAIRO, July 21 (Itar-Tass) - The League of Arab States (LAS) welcomed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resume direct talks between Palestine and Israel.

Mohammed Sabih, the assistant secretary-general for Palestine and occupied Arab territories at the League of Arab States, said on Sunday, July 21, that LAS offers full support to Palestine’s position on this issue but has doubts about the sincerity of Israel’s intentions.

“Many in the Israeli government do not support the Arab peace initiative and LAS is closely watching the Israelis’ position to make sure they do not get what they want: conducting talks for the sake of talks and drawing into a vicious circle,” he said.

The League is forming a system of political control for Palestine in case it makes the decision to start negotiations with Israel, the official added.

Sabih believes that these negotiations may as well be “the last chance” to break the stalemate in the peace process. LAS doubts Israel’s intentions but sees positive moves on the part of the U.S. secretary of state, he said.

On Friday, July 19, after three days of exhausting consultations with the Palestinians, Kerry announced that a platform for new talks had been agreed and that the sides would send their delegations to Washington next week.

He said this would be the beginning of direct contacts between Palestinian and Israel.

“We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is a significant and welcome step forward,” Kerry said.

He noted that “candid, private conversations are the very best way to preserve the time and the space for progress and understanding when you face difficult, complicated issues such as Middle East peace.”

At the same time, he admitted that “no one believes that the longstanding differences between the parties can be resolved overnight or just wiped away.”

Kerry pointed out that “the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead” and “the road ahead will be difficult and the challenges that the parties face are daunting” but said he was “hopeful because of the courageous leadership shown by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here, and both of them were instrumental in pushing in this direction.”

They agreed that “the difficult road ahead is worth traveling and that the daunting challenges that we face are worth tackling. So they have courageously recognised that in order for Israelis and Palestinians to live together side by side in peace and security, they must begin by sitting at the table together in direct talks.”

He welcomed “the positive steps that Israelis themselves and Palestinians are taking on the ground and the promise that those steps represent about the possibilities of the future.”

“The path to resolution of this longstanding conflict in this critical corner of the world, that path is not about fate. It’s about choices, choices that people can make. And this is not up to chance. It’s up to the Israeli people and the Palestinian people and no one else,” the secretary of state said.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also lauded Kerry for “his determination in bringing the parties back together.”

She welcomed his announcement on the Middle East peace process. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have demonstrated courage in reaching this point. Their demonstration of leadership gives me great hope that we may finally see progress towards the objectives which they share along with their friends and allies around the world: peace, security and dignity for their peoples,” Ashton said.

She stressed that “there are difficult negotiations ahead and difficult decisions to take and reaffirmed the European Union’s readiness to “make every effort to ensure that negotiations succeed.”

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