Monday, May 30, 2016

Arab League Chief Denounces Israel at Peace Talks Meeting
AFP, Ahram Online
Sunday 29 May 2016

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi blasted Israel as a bastion of "fascism and racial discrimination" on Saturday at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers that backed France's Middle East peace initiative.

The Arab ministers at the end of the meeting adopted a resolution backing "the French initiative and all Arab and international efforts" for peace talks between Israeli occupation authorities and Palestinians.

In his speech to the ministers, Arabi, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, said the country "has truly become today the last bastion of fascism, colonialism and racial discrimination in the world".

Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas has rejected an Israeli offer for direct negotiations instead of the French multilateral peace initiative, which Israel has turned down.

On Saturday, he blamed Israeli occupation authorities for stalling the talks.

"We tried hard with the Israeli government to implement signed treaties and respect our and their commitments, but they refused," he said.

The French initiative involves holding a meeting of foreign ministers from a range of countries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, on June 3, but without the Israelis and Palestinians present.

An international conference would then be held in the autumn, with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal is an eventual relaunch of negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt will participate in this Middle East peace conference.

During his speech at the Arab foreign ministers meeting on Saturday, Shoukry expressed his wish that this initiative brings peace stalled talks between Palestinians and Israelis back on track. Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

Since the start of October 2015, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least 205 Palestinians. Meanwhile, almost daily stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks by frustrated and unarmed Palestinians have killed 28 Israelis and a US citizen.

The current wave of protests by Palestinians and repression by Israeli occupation forces started in late July when toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians were severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

Settlement-building, racial discrimination, confiscation of identity cards, long queues at checkpoints, as well as daily clashes and the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, describe Palestinians' daily suffering.

The anger of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has increased in the last three years after the Israeli authorities allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The surge in violence has been fuelled by Palestinians' frustration over Israel's 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state, and the expansion of settlements in those territories which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinian leaders say a younger generation sees no hope for the future living under Israeli security restrictions and with a stifled economy. The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April 2014.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online.

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