The Arab League has confirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority during its negotiations with Israel. The second round of direct negotiations between the two parties began today, (14.09.2010) in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the coast of Red Sea. They are taking place under the chairmanship of Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas 'Abu Mazen' and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in attendance. Clinton has stressed her desire for serious negotiations.
Ambassador Muhammad Sobeih, Assistant Secretary General of Palestinian Affairs and the Arab Occupied Territories in the Arab League has stated that he is in constant contact with the Palestinian Authority. He has received a phone call from the head of the negotiating circle within the PLO, Dr Saeb Erekat, during which he was informed of the latest developments.
In a statement to reporters yesterday (13.09.2010), Ambassador Sobeih asserted that negotiations would focus on five fundamental issues starting with the issue of borders which will conclusively determine the form that a future Palestinian State would take. He expressed astonishment at the continuation of settlement construction in Jerusalem, the West bank and the Golan Heights despite frequent Israeli claims that a freeze on settlement construction is currently in place and will expire on the 26th of this month.
Sobeih reiterated that the settlements were illegal and that according to all resolutions under the international system they were considered void and must no doubt be dismantled. He also stressed the Arab League's support for the position taken by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in stressing the need to freeze settlement activity in the occupied territories.
Regarding Netanyahu's stipulation that Palestinians recognise the 'Jewishness' of Israel as a condition for the success of negotiations, despite the fact that Israelis themselves are not agreed as to what exactly 'Jewishness' is, Sobeih asked; "How can they demand that Palestinians recognise the Jewishness of the State?"
Sobeih also explained that any discussion about the 'Jewishness' of the state of Israel is a "discussion about an ethnic state and seeks to evades debate of the issue of refugees; a matter which pertains to all Arab states." Pointing out that Netanyahu wanted to circumvent this matter, he said that it "constitutes a failed attempt and an open deception on Netanyahu's part, and if he wants to end negotiations, then he needs to search for an alternative solution."
Source: Quds Press