Arab League Committee Meeting on US Peace Plan Bumped to Thursday
A special Arab League committee will review the US peace proposals for the Israelis and Palestinians Thursday in Cairo and not on Monday as previously planned, a Lebanese government source said.
The Arab states decided they needed more time for consultations after conversations between Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud and his counterparts from Egypt, Syria and Tunisia as well as Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdel Meguid, the source said Friday.
The meeting, to be presided over by Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa, came after a Palestinian request for Arab support for any decision it makes on the peace process with Israel.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's top aide Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday in the Gaza Strip that the committee would meet Monday to discuss the US peace initiatives.
The special committee consists of the foreign ministers from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Tunisia. The committee was formed during the Arab summit convened in late October to address the renewed fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.
The US proposals reportedly involve Israel turning over control of Arab neighborhoods in occupied east Jerusalem to the Palestinians, along with the al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, would remain under Israeli sovereignty, according to media reports.
Israel would also withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, territories it has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, but annex 80 percent of the Jewish settlements.
Plans for an Israeli-Palestinian summit regarding the US proposals fell through Thursday. While Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak has agreed to accept the US initiative if the Palestinians do, Arafat has called for clarifications on the proposals -- BEIRUT (AFP)
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