Arab League set for Israel talks

A delegation from the Arab League is visiting Israel for the first time, to promote a Middle East peace plan.

Arab League set for Israel talks
Foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab countries that recognise Israel, will meet PM Ehud Olmert.

The team is trying to push forward an Arab peace plan Israel has in the past treated coolly but which correspondents say it may now be willing to discuss.

New Middle East envoy Tony Blair said after visiting the West Bank he saw a "moment of opportunity" for peace.

King's visit

Egypt's Ahmed Abul Gheit and Jordan's Abdel Ilah al-Khatib will present a long-standing Arab League initiative that was readopted at a meeting in Saudi Arabia recently.

The initiative offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, the creation of a Palestinian state and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Israel dismissed the proposal on its launch in 2002, but has recently suggested it could be the basis for negotiations.

Some observers see the Arab League visit as part of growing diplomatic activity aimed at reviving the moribund Middle East peace process, says the BBC's Bethany Bell in Jerusalem.

It suggests, they say, that peace is still possible if moderate forces work together.

But elsewhere, our correspondent says, there is deep pessimism about whether these steps are really leading anywhere, as well as concern about the massive internal divisions among the Palestinians.

On Wednesday, the Haaretz newspaper said Israel was considering an "an agreement of principles" with Palestinians that could establish a Palestinian state on 90% of occupied territory.

The paper said Israel would propose a tunnel linking the West Bank and Gaza, while there would also be a territory exchange allowing Israel to keep its main Jewish settlements.

In the US, King Abdullah of Jordan met President George W Bush at a private dinner in Washington.

The king urged Mr Bush to step up US efforts on Middle East peace.

A US administration official said Mr Bush remained "committed to two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security".

Meanwhile, Mr Blair, the former UK prime minister, is continuing his tour of the region.

He is due to visit Bahrain and Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

He said in the West Bank: "I think there is a sense of possibility at the moment. I think this is a moment of opportunity."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2007, 14:58