Israeli Officials Offer Tepid Response to Arab League Bid to Jumpstart Peace Talks

Senior Israeli officials praise Arab League's 'encouragement,' reject call for negotiations based on 1967 lines.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Senior Israeli officials on Tuesday gave a tepid response to the remarks made by delegates of the Arab League, who have apparently softened their stance on Israel's final borders.

While the Israeli officials praised what they called "encouragement" being directed at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew negotiations, they rejected the idea that such negotiations would be based on 1967 borders, with land-swaps.

"Israel welcomes the encouragement by Arab League delegates and Secretary of State John Kerry to rekindle diplomatic efforts," officials said. "As is well known, Israel is prepared to commence negotiations at any time, and in any place, without any preconditions, and expects the Palestinians to also refrain from presenting such conditions. The sides' positions can be presented during negotiations, when they commence.

A late night meeting took place Monday night between foreign ministers on the Arab League's' tracking committee, Kerry, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

After the meeting's conclusion, Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani said the Arab League is still committed to the plan it proposed in 2002.

According to the offer, after signing a peace treaty based on Israel's 1967 borders, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, all Arab nations will normalize their relations with Israel.

Unlike similar, previous offers, the Qatari prime minister's remarks included an acceptance of the Palestinian's favoring of "comparable," mutually agreed and "minor" land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The officials did not directly comment on the details of the 2002 proposal, or on the changes made to it. But their comments implied that Netanyahu's government is unwilling to base negotiations on the 1967 borders, with land-swaps included.

John Kerry shaking hands with Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani after a meeting with the Aab League. April 29th, 2013. Credit: AFP