Arab League backs Abbas on direct talks

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Arab League backs Abbas on direct talks

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Breakthrough, brinkmanship or merely bluster?

The Arab League has backed face-to-face peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians but has left the timing to President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian leader, in Cairo to address the League, is under pressure from the US to restart direct negotiations.

But, so far Abbas has refused to budge. He has demanded a return to the 1967 borders, protected in principle by a third party, for example NATO.

Another key demand includes a complete stop to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories.

Some remain optimistic a deal to meet directly can be struck.

Political analyst George Giacaman said: ‘‘Well. you have to keep in mind that the time frame for indirect negotiations ends towards the end of September, so there is about almost six weeks between now and then, so there is enough time to try to work out a diplomatic solution if one is possible.’‘

Despite publicly stating his wish to restart negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already ruled out giving up control of East Jerusalem.

Many Palestinians in the West Bank still remain sceptical that a breakthrough can be made, while Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, has called on Abbas not to do a deal with the Israelis.