Arab League backs resumption of Middle East talks

CAIRO (Reuters) – Arab League nations yesterday  endorsed a resumption of negotiations on the Palestinian-Israeli  conflict, raising hopes that indirect talks brokered by the  United States could revive the stalled peace process.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters  after a meeting of Arab officials in Cairo that the regional  body would back indirect negotiations between Palestinian and  Israeli officials.

“The timeframe of indirect talks will not change from what  was agreed to in March, and there will be no change from  indirect talks to direct talks until after the outcome of  indirect talks has been assessed,” he said.

Arab League backing is key if Palestinian President Mahmoud  Abbas is to risk opposition from Palestinian hardliners backed  by Syria and Iran and embrace negotiations that have been on  hold since the three-week Gaza war began in December 2008.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told Reuters the  condition for Arab League support would be a halt of settlement  activity in the West Bank. “If Israel builds one house in the  West Bank, Palestinians will immediately stop the negotiations.”

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