Cairo: Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday rejected more Palestinian-Israeli peace talks without a "serious offer" and said they will seek a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli colony building.
They announced their decisions after meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell vowing "substantive" talks with Israel and the Palestinians to rescue the battered peace process.
"Resuming the negotiations will be conditioned on receiving a serious offer that guarantees an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict," the ministers said in a statement read by Arab League chief Amr Mousa.
The Arab League ministerial follow-up committee on the peace process "sees that the direction of talks has become ineffective and it has decided against the resumption of negotiations," Mousa said.
The foreign ministers also decided "to bring up the issue of Israeli settlements [colonies] again to the Security Council," wanting the UN body to adopt a resolution "that confirms ... the illegal nature of this activity and that would oblige Israel to stop it."
They also called on the United States, which has vetoed resolutions against Israel in the past, not to obstruct such a move.
The Palestinians pulled out of the direct, US-backed negotiations when Israel refused to extend a 10-month freeze on West Bank colony construction which ended on September 26.
The United States said last week it had been unable to persuade Israel to impose new restrictions on colony building and it would resume indirect negotiations on the issues at the heart of the six-decade old conflict.
Mousa did not specify whether the Arab opposition to negotiations included the indirect talks.
The Palestinians say any resumption of face-to-face talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requires a full halt to construction on land where they aim to found a state, including a stop to Israeli building in occupied East Jerusalem.
Officials meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday were angered by the US position as conveyed to them by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior Palestinian official who attended the meeting said.
A senior Palestinian official had said Abbas was going to the Arab League for recommendations on the Palestinians' next step. The Palestinian leadership would take decisions at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee in the coming days, the official said.
Mitchell met both Abbas and Netanyahu this week.
The Palestinians asked Mitchell to come back to them with Israel's ideas on what the borders of the future Palestinian state would look like, a senior Palestinian official said, suggesting indirect peace talks are already under way.
Mitchell, who held talks with Moussa earlier on Wednesday, said both parties wanted Washington to continue to shepherd negotiations.
"In the days ahead our discussions with both sides will be substantive one-way conversations with an eye on making real progress in the next few months on key questions of an eventual framework agreement," Mitchell told reporters.
But Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani, chair of the Arab League committee, said he did he did "not expect anything" from the United States. "In light of the talks with Mitchell, the American mediator has nothing new to offer," he said.