Arab League spokesman Nasif Hata said Wednesday that the 22-member body isn’t optimistic about renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Upon returning from a meeting in Paris with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Hata claimed there were “no positive indications of progress.”
In order for negotiations to yield results, he added, the US would have to play an active role in ending the impasse.
“The US vowed to take action starting from early January if there is no progress,” Hata said. “Washington promised it would present viable suggestions for ways to end the thaw.”
Meanwhile Wednesday, an Israeli source in Rome with the prime minister reportedly said Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “anytime, anywhere.” His comments were quoted to Maariv by unnamed Palestinian sources close to Abbas.
The Israeli source spoke following the PA president’s declaration on Tuesday that he was prepared to meet with Netanyahu for direct peace talks.
“I’m always willing to meet with him,” Abbas said in an interview with the German newspaper Rheinische Post.
The Palestinian leader laid down no preconditions for talks but strongly condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, which he said was illegal and undermined the peace process.
Netanyahu met with Kerry in Rome on Wednesday for a meeting that lasted over seven hours. Before they sat down, Kerry said Iran would have to prove to the world that its nuclear program was peaceful in nature.
“We will need to know that actions are being taken, which make it clear, undeniably clear, fail-safe to the world, that whatever program is pursued is indeed a peaceful program,” Kerry told reporters in a brief press statement at the start of the meeting.
Abbas, who is currently in Brussels, met Wednesday with European Union Council President Herman vam Rompuy and thanked him for his support in the Palestinian struggle against Israeli settlement activity.
On Tuesday, Israelis and the Palestinians struck a grim tone at a UN Security Council debate, with both sides lashing out at each other over recent violence, and the Palestinian envoy saying “tangible progress remains elusive.”
UN Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, however, was more optimistic, saying negotiations have “picked up the pace” since the quartet of Middle East peacemakers — the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union — met in September in New York for the first time in more than a year. Feltman said quartet envoys were meeting every month to assess progress in talks.
Under heavy US pressure and amid low expectations and deep skepticism on both side, peace negotiations resumed in July. Talks are taking place in secret, in an effort to avoid potentially detrimental media coverage.