Arab nations back indirect peace talks with Israel

Arab nations gave the Palestinians the green light on Saturday to enter indirect peace talks with Israel, likely opening the way for the start of long-stalled US-brokered negotiations.

Updated: May 02, 2010, 09:08 AM IST

Cairo: Arab nations gave the Palestinians the green light on Saturday to enter indirect peace talks with Israel, likely opening the way for the start of long-stalled US-brokered negotiations.

The decision, made by foreign ministers from several top Arab League member nations, comes after a first attempt to get indirect talks going collapsed in March when Israel announced a new Jewish housing project in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as a future capital.

The Israeli decision drew fierce criticism from the United States and led to the worst rift in decades between Washington and its chief Middle East ally.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that the Arab foreign ministers decided "that we should stick to the decision" to enter indirect talks with Israel via a US mediator.

"We need the Arabs` support and assistance," Erekat said.

This is the second time Arab nations have endorsed indirect talks.

The Arab League first did so in early March. Arab foreign ministers said on Saturday they had reservations about backing the talks a second time, but said they were willing to do so for a preliminary four-month period despite what they see as a lack of commitment to peace from Israel.

PTI