An Arab League official said Monday that a possible three-month-long temporary freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank would be unlikely to be enough to prompt Palestinian and Arab support for Mideast peace talks.
"If the news is true about there being a settlement freeze that excludes Jerusalem and that takes the criticism off Israel, I cannot imagine that would be acceptable to the Palestinian side or the Arab side," said Hesham Youssef, an official with the office of the
secretary general of the Arab League.
He said the Arab League is waiting to see what Israel and the United States are going to offer the Palestinians before making any decisions, though. The Arab League is also mulling over alternative options to direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, one of which may include seeking United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.
The Arab nations have made clear that, from their vantage point, talks cannot take place while Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank, a swath of land which would be the cornerstone of any future independent Palestinian state.
The proposed U.S. incentives package offered to Israel includes a U.S. undertaking not to request a further extension of the freeze following its expiration, and to veto any attempt by the Palestinians to win United Nations recognition of their state unilaterally.
The Obama administration would also ask Congress to approve the sale of 20 F-35 warplanes to Israel and, should there be a peace deal with the Palestinians, guarantee its wider security needs. These would supplement the 20 F-35 warplanes Israel already plans to buy using money from annual grants it receives from Washington.
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