World

Tit-for-tat game leads Arab league to blame Israel

Sapa-AFP

Arab foreign ministers say Israel is "wholly responsible for the dangerous stalemate" in US-brokered peace talks scheduled to end on April 29.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi accused the Israelis of dragging their feet in the talks, telling reporters: 'Gaining time is a strategic objective for Israel.' (Supplied)

Arab foreign ministers gathered on Wednesday with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas saying Israel was "wholly responsible for the dangerous stalemate" in US-brokered peace talks scheduled to end on April 29.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry also blamed the approval of Israeli settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem for derailing peace talks with the Palestinians, but accused both sides of intransigence.

Wednesday's emergency meeting was requested by Abbas after Israel backtracked on releasing a final batch of Palestinian prisoners and reissued tenders for 708 settler homes in east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians responded to the Israeli decision regarding the prisoners by applying to adhere to 15 international treaties, breaking their own commitment to refrain from such action during the nine months of talks.

Major blow
The tit-for-tat moves came as a major blow to Kerry's frenetic efforts to find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

"Despite all, we are committed, as Palestinians and Arabs, to the negotiation process and the efforts exerted by Kerry in order to find a way out of this crisis", Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi accused the Israelis of dragging their feet in the talks, telling reporters: "Gaining time is a strategic objective for Israel."

The talks have teetered on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework proposal to extend the negotiations to the year's end.

Israel says its release of each batch of prisoners was conditional on progress in negotiations. – Sapa-AFP

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