CAIRO (AFP) – A meeting between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Arab foreign ministers has been postponed until October 6 to give the United States a chance to save troubled peace talks, the Arab League said on Thursday.
Abbas was initially scheduled to meet Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on October 4 to decide how to proceed with peace talks with Israel following the resumption of Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
“It has been decided that the meeting of the Arab League peace committee will take place on October 6,” Ahmed Eissa, spokesman for Arab League chief Amr Mussa, told AFP.
The reason for the postponement is to “allow Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to attend the meeting, in light of the latest developments and efforts by the United States for peace talks,” Eissa said.
US envoy George Mitchell and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are converging on Israel and the Palestinian territories for talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to save the talks.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are on the verge of collapse after Israel refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, as demanded by the Palestinians and urged by the European Union and the United States.
Abbas had repeatedly said that he would walk away from the talks if settlement activity continued.
The moratorium ran out on Sunday but the Palestinians have delayed a decision on whether or not to quit the talks until Abbas has conferred with Arab foreign ministers.