by Shlomo Cesana
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Arab League foreign ministers in Paris, briefs them on progress made in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks • Arab League pledges to "provide whatever support may be necessary to achieve just and lasting peace."
Israel and the Palestinian Authority should strive to strike a permanent peace agreement within nine months, a statement by the U.S. State Department said Sunday. The statement was released shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry met in Paris with a ministerial delegation assigned by the Arab League’s Peace Initiative Committee.
The delegation included the foreign ministers and permanent Arab League representatives of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and was chaired by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.
The meeting was held after Kerry had met with Martin Indyk, Washington's special envoy to the Middle East. According to the State Department's statement, Kerry briefed the Arab League delegation on the ongoing permanent status negotiations between the PA and Israel and reiterated the U.S.'s commitment "to pursuing intensive negotiations to end the conflict through a permanent status agreement."
He also updated the delegation on the plans to promote investment and economic growth for the Palestinian people. The delegation expressed its full support for Kerry's efforts and for the agreed upon nine month timeline.
The statement added that the Arab League's delegation "expressed concern about continued Israeli settlement activity and unilateral Israeli actions in Jerusalem that create a negative environment. The delegation hopes that the ongoing negotiations will lead to a resolution that achieves a just and lasting peace through resolving all permanent status issues as a major step towards comprehensive Middle East Peace, which will contribute to regional security and stability."
The Arab League, the statement added, "expressed its willingness to provide whatever support may be necessary to achieve this outcome including economic support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Economic Initiative."
In early August, as the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the current round of negotiations was the "beginning of final-status arrangements on a nine-month timetable." She stressed that both parties "have agreed to a timetable … but it is not a deadline -- it is an agreement that they will work together for at least this period."
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