Arab League chief says he expects Israeli initiative in Mideast peace process

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa urged Israel on Tuesday to be more proactive in restarting the stalled Mideast peace talks following the creation of a new Palestinian unity government.

The Fatah and Hamas movements agreed to form the new government three days ago, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has refused to deal with the government until it recognizes Israel's right to exist, renounces violence and accepts past peace deals.

Israel's stance puts it at odds with the U.S. and the European Union, who have signaled a willingness to deal with moderate members of the new government, while calling on Palestinian leaders to clarify the new coalition's stance on violence against Israel.

"We expect an offer by Israel," Moussa told reporters after talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib. He did not provide details on the kind of initiative the Arab League hopes for from Israel.

"In so far as peace is concerned, we fail to see any offer, any serious talk of peace," he said of Olmert's government. "What we see is the same old policy of building settlements, procrastination, of resorting to tricks one after the other in order to waste time."

Moussa was in Jordan - on the second leg of a regional tour - ahead of an upcoming Arab summit in Saudi Arabia on March 28-29 where Mideast leaders hope to build momentum for a resumption of the peace process with Israel based on a 2002 Arab peace initiative.

The initiative calls for peace between Israel and Arab nations for the return of Arab lands seized by the Jewish state in 1967.

Moussa said the Arab League summit in Riyadh would not "reintroduce" the initiative, but rather "reaffirm" the measure and Arab commitment to it.

Israel has rejected the Arab peace deal but in recent weeks said it could support it with some amendments.

But Moussa ruled out any revisions to the plan.

"We are not ready to enter into any changes or any futile discussion about the contents of the initiative," he said.

"The Arab initiative is supported by the European Union, the United States, and all other international powers," Moussa said. "Only Israel is trying to avoid it as much as it can and is trying to get some support from some countries."

Moussa later met Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II, at an Amman hilltop palace and praised the monarch's efforts to put the Mideast peace process "on the right track," according to a royal palace statement, reports AP.

Abdullah stressed the importance of the Arab peace initiative, which he said "demonstrates the Arab will and seriousness to achieve peace with Israel in the coming political phase."

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