BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Peace conference moves arouse Arab fears
Israeli settlement going up at Beit Illar in the West Bank
Arabs suspect settlements would be in place longer
test hello test
By the BBC's Heba Saleh
in Cairo

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, says a US proposal for a new Middle East peace conference is part of plot to create a new regional order dominated by Israel.

Mr Mussa said he believed that Israel - backed by the United States - wanted to impose peace on its own terms, regardless of Arab interests.

Mr Mussa's words reflect the deep Arab mistrust of the conference

Echoing a widely-held view in the Middle East, Mr Mussa was speaking in Cairo before a meeting with key Arab foreign ministers.

They are due to discuss the latest moves to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.

The meeting will hear a report from Saudi Arabia on the outcome of the talks its leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, held with US President George W Bush.

Mr Mussa's fiery words reflect the deep Arab mistrust of the conference - an idea initially proposed by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal
Saudi Arabia has proposed a land-for-peace initiative with Israel
The Arabs know that Mr Sharon does not want a final settlement, preferring a long-term interim agreement that would leave Israeli settlements in place in the West Bank, and put off dealing with the key issues of the future of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees.

The Arabs also fear Mr Sharon might succeed in sidelining the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in favour of a more accommodating leadership.

The Jordanian foreign minister has said his country was not interested in attending any conference which only dealt with security arrangements or interim agreements.

He said the Arab initiative offering Israel peace against a full withdrawal from occupied land had to be on the agenda.

Egypt has taken a similar stand.

Its foreign minister said Egypt would reject what it suspects are Mr Sharon's attempts to do away with previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and restart negotiations from square one.

Arab League London Ambassador, Ali Mahsen Hamid
"It will definitely invite retaliation"
See also:

21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Quick guide: Arab League
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories