Important resolutions in Arab foreign ministers council session in Cairo

Direct talks with Israel have to stand on peace process terms of reference within set timetable

Council rejects Israel’s requests that Palestinians recognize Israel as Jewish state

Ministers urge U.S. President Obama to stick to position calling for total freeze of settlements building

The Ministerial Council of Arab Foreign Ministers concluded its 134th session in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Thursday.

The delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the session was headed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani.

In a press conference, the Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said the session focused on the issue of direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, stressing that the status of these negotiations is at stake because of Israeli settlements.

He noted that Arab foreign ministers will meet in Sirte, Libya on October 8 to review the process of developing joint Arab actions and the establishment of an association of Arab neighboring countries to be submitted to the extraordinary Arab summit in Sirte on October 9.

Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo Thursday for the 134th session of the Arab League's ministers council to discuss the Middle East peace talks as well as regional developments.

The meeting comes two days after Israeli and Palestinian leaders held their second round of direct talks in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, who took over the rotating presidency of the council on Thursday, urged Palestinian factions to reach national reconciliation as the direct talks were being held.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said in Cairo on Thursday that Arab foreign ministers have supported the Palestinian stance, rejecting to go on with the direct talks with Israel if the latter resumed settlement activities after Sept. 26.

Malki told reporters on the sidelines of the 134th session of the Arab League (AL) Council at the level of foreign ministers. The gathering of Arab foreign ministers covered a 30-item agenda with the Palestinian issue on the top.

"The Palestinians are concerned over the Israeli intentions towards the direct talks. Yet, they go to the talks in hope that a breakthrough will be made due to the serious intentions shown by the U.S. administration," Malki said.

"We believe that the United States is serious towards overcoming this obstacle (settlements)," he added.

Malki said the situation is a real test not only to the international will and the U.S. efforts but also to the seriousness of the Israeli government to achieve peace.

A 10-month settlement moratorium in the West Bank imposed by the Israeli government since last November will expire on September 26. The Palestinian side has vowed repeatedly that it will quit the direct talks if Israel do not extend the freeze on settlement building.

A draft resolution was discussed in the meeting, shortly after Israeli and Palestinian leaders held the second round of direct talks in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

The resolution rejected any Israeli unilateral measure aimed at changing the demographic reality of the occupied Palestinian territories, while urging U.S. President Barack Obama to stick to his call for a full settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Asked if the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) will call for an urgent meeting if Israel decided to resume settlement building after the expiration of the moratorium, Malki said that an extraordinary Arab summit, due in Sirte of Libya on Oct. 9, will be a good platform for President Mahmoud Abbas to brief the Arab leaders on the progress of the direct talks.

Top diplomats from 22 Arab countries took part in the meeting.

AL Secretary General Amr Moussa said in a speech that Arab states will give direct negotiations a chance to succeed despite the fears and doubts that surround such negotiations as a result of Israel's stance.

Moussa stressed that an Arab stand would hinge on the positive or negative developments in the coming several weeks, which would be crucial for the issue of settlement freeze.