Arab League agrees to direct talks but....Meeting in Cairo on Thursday, the Arab League decided that it would back 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President
Earlier Thursday, the Qatari prime minister announced the Arab League's decision, saying that the Arab League would support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas if he decided to enter direct talks with Israel.Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak dutifully expressed their satisfaction with the League's decision.
Asked whether the league would back direct talks, Jassim said: "Of course, there is agreement, but agreement over the principles of what will be discussed and the manner of the direct negotiations."
It would be up to Abbas to decide whether to hold talks, based on whatever conditions he sees fit, Jassim said.
Jassim added that he was "full of doubts" about Israel's seriousness regarding final status negotiations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday also welcomed the Arab League announcement. The prime minister declared that he would be willing to enter into "direct and honest peace talks" within days, adding that "by way of direct negotiations, a speedy peace agreement can be achieved."The talks aren't going to be starting just yet.
Barak, currently in Washington for a series of meetings with top administration officials, said that "only direct negotiations can bring a peace agreement and a solution of two states for two peoples."
"Negotiations will require difficult and brave decisions from both sides," Barak added. "I hope that the Palestinians understand that."
The U.S. has for the last few months been mediating indirect negotiations between the two sides, but the Palestinian leader said he would only move toward direct talks if Israel agrees to a complete halt in settlement construction and accepts a Palestinian state in territories seized in the 1967 Six Day War - the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.On Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos that accepting an extension to the 'settlement freeze' would likely bring about the collapse of his government. As to the demand to return to the 1949 armistice lines - that would be a non-starter regardless of who is in power.
"When I receive written assurances [about] accepting the 1967 border and halting the settlement [building], I will go immediately to the direct talks," Abbas was quoted as saying in remarks reported by Egypt's state-owned news agency Thursday.
Don't hold your breath waiting for these talks to happen.