by Staff Writers
Doha (AFP) Dec 9, 2012
Qatar called at an Arab League ministerial meeting Sunday for a rethink of an Arab offer of normal ties with Israel in return for its pullout from occupied land and branded the international Quartet a failure.
"It is logical after 10 years to objectively reconsider the peace process, including the Arab initiative," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, the country's prime minister.
He called for a "thorough look into developments in the region and the world, and to decide carefully on our future steps and roadmap."
Sheikh Hamad, who heads an Arab League follow-up committee, said the initiative tabled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League would "not be on offer for ever."
The League has proposed a normalisation with the Jewish state in return for its pullout from occupied lands, notably the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, for his part, told the meeting in Doha that he was opposed to a withdrawal of the offer, warning that it could lead to regional conflict.
"It is not permissible to talk about sidelining the Arab peace initiative. It should stay," he said. "It is a very important initiative, and I hope that we would not every time talk about shelving it, because that would mean war.
"Are we ready for war? Personally, I say I am not," he added.
The Qatari premier also criticised the diplomatic Quartet for Middle East peace comprising Washington, Moscow, Brussels and the UN which he said had "proven to be a failure and unable to make any achievements."
He called for a "reevaluation of its performance."
The ministerial committee agreed to form a delegation to the UN Security Council to negotiate an Israeli withdrawal to pre-June 1967 borders, in light of the UN General Assembly vote to admit Palestine as a non-member state.
"Palestine's admission as an observer state at the United Nations and the significance of this international recognition of Palestine as a state under occupation obliges the international community to end occupation," it said in a final statement.
The committee endorsed a call by Abbas for Arab countries to activate a monthly $100-million safety net for the Palestinian Authority agreed this year at an Arab League summit in Baghdad.
Abbas asked for the aid package to be dispersed as Israel withholds customs revenues due to his Palestinian Authority in retaliation for last month's UN upgrade of the Palestinians.
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