Arab League chief: Top priority next year is Palestine

Arab League chief: Top priority next year is Palestine

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said Monday that, among the organization's top priorities in 2011, is the issue of Mideast peace and Palestine, dpa reported.

"The Palestinian issue and the peace process are a priority," said Moussa at a press conference in Cairo, where the 22-member Arab League is based.

The Arab League is gearing for a summit on the topic of Jerusalem to be held in Qatar in early February.

Speaking on the two-year anniversary of "Operation Cast Lead," Israel's three-week long offensive upon the Gaza Strip, Moussa said that the Palestinian people "are steadfast and patient, but suffer a lot because of the occupation and repressive actions."

"I visited Gaza and saw the situation for myself. It was a painful thing to see," said Moussa, who reiterated the Arab League's position that Israel end its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

He said the peace process has lost momentum because of Israel's "unilateralism" and the continuation of settlement construction in the West Bank, a swathe of land to be at the cornerstone of any future independent Palestinian state.

"Negotiating under settlement expansion is a great deception, and how do we negotiate on land being eroded?" asked Moussa.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, earlier this year, was seeking the backing of the Arab League for a number of alternative measures to direct peace talks, including referring the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

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