Arab-Turkish forum calls on Israel to halt settlements

Arab-Turkish forum calls on Israel to halt settlements

FM Ahmet Davutoğlu (L), Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem (R) and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa talked at the end of the Arab-Turkish Forum in Damascus on Tuesday.

December 17, 2009, Thursday/ 16:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
A forum of six Arab states plus Turkey has urged Israel to halt all settlement activity so Mideast peace negotiations can resume, while also calling on Israel to abide by previously signed agreements with the Palestinian side, to put an end to its illegal practices in East Jerusalem and to lift the siege on Gaza.

Damascus on Tuesday hosted the second meeting of foreign ministers of the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum. While Turkey was represented by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the foreign ministers of Iraq, Libya, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan and Syria and Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the 22-nation Arab League, also participated in the meeting.

The joint call by Arab states and Turkey came in a final communiqué released following the meeting. The communiqué emphasized that the seven countries had a shared vision for safeguarding and protecting security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East through a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict involving its three Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracks in line with relevant UN resolutions. It stressed the significant role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process, calling for the adoption of dialogue, opening up to others and constructive involvement as a method for achieving peace, security and stability in the region and the entire world.

Israel announced a 10-month halt in most West Bank construction late last month in an attempt to restart peace talks. The Palestinians say the settlement freeze falls short because it does not include East Jerusalem or 3,000 homes already under construction in the West Bank.

A comprehensive peace deal can be reached between Israel and the Palestinians within six months if Israel completely freezes its settlement construction, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Wednesday.

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