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    Arab League ready to reconsider Mideast peace talks endorsement

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    The Arab League has threatened to review its support for Israeli-Palestinian indirect peace talks over Israel's recently announced plans for new settlement construction in the Palestinian territories.

    The Arab League has threatened to review its support for Israeli-Palestinian indirect peace talks over Israel's recently announced plans for new settlement construction in the Palestinian territories.

    The Arab League, which earlier supported the U.S.-backed initiative, held on Wednesday an emergency meeting following Israel's decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

    The league's Arab peace initiative committee said in a statement "in case of the failure to stop the Israeli measures immediately ... the committee concludes that the proposed talks are irrelevant."

    The committee's decision is only a recommendation, which is still to be considered by the Arab states' foreign ministers.

    During a news conference, which followed the meeting, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said the Palestinians were "not ready to negotiate under the present circumstances."

    The Middle East peace process made progress earlier this month, when the Palestinian authorities agreed to hold U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks with Israel after a 14-month break.

    However, Israeli government's intention to build new settlements in East Jerusalem poses a new threat to the resumption of peace talks.

    The new construction plan, announced during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, was condemned by the U.S. top official as a "step that undermines the trust."

    EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also condemned Israel's move.

    Settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, has been the main obstacle to reviving peace talks, stalled since an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

    Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity, and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001 from the Palestinian territories.

    A meeting of the Quartet of international mediators in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which comprises Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, will be held in Moscow on March 19.

    CAIRO, March 11 (RIA Novosti)

     

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