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Arab Leaders Say They Are Ready To Relaunch Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

Arab League participants gather in Jordan.

Arab leaders say they are prepared to restart a peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, again putting forward the possibility of full ties with Israel in exchange for Palestinian statehood.

Ending a one-day annual summit in Jordan on March 29, Arab leaders reaffirmed their commitment "to relaunch serious and effective Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations."

They vowed to "follow a specific timetable to end the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution."

The Arab League summit came as three key Arab leaders are scheduled to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington in the coming weeks.

Jordan's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas met at the summit to coordinate their positions ahead of the White House meetings.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the summit signaled that the Arab world is willing to work with the Trump administration to negotiate a two-state deal.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's international envoy, held talks with Abbas, along with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar, on the sidelines of the summit.

He told Arab leaders that Trump believes an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is possible and would "reverberate positively throughout the region and the world."

Trump has sent conflicting comments on the Middle East situation.

During his presidential campaign, he angered Arab leaders with a vow to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to contested Jerusalem and later suggested he was prepared to accept alternatives to a two-state solution.

Since then, however, he has downplayed both possibilities and indicated his willingness to broker a peace deal.

The summit reaffirmed the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that offered Israel normalization of relations if it hands back captured lands for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israel has sought a regional solution, with normalization of ties to individual Arab nations coming before an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz acknowledged the importance of the Palestinian issue.

But he also said Arab leaders should not forget the other pressing "strategic regional challenges" involving Iran, the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya.

He said working together on these threats, while improving conditions of the Palestinians, can "lay the groundwork" for progress.

At the summit, Jordanian Foreign Minister Safadi said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a root cause of many Middle East conflicts. Resolving it, he added, would also aid in the fight against terrorism.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa
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