Mediterranean summit postponed for second time due to peace talks deadlock

The Union for the Mediterranean summit, previously scheduled for 21 November in Barcelona, will be postponed for the second time, according to diplomatic sources.

The summit was first postponed in June, in order to prioritize developments in the Middle East peace process, amid accusations that Israel was obstructing negotiations.

The second postponement became certain on Thursday after a meeting in Paris between French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit, and former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a summit organization authority. France and Egypt are summit leaders.

Egypt says the summit is contingent on a breakthrough in peace negotiations.

"Israel has not taken enough steps to move forward with the Palestinians in concluding a peace agreement," Abul Gheit said on Wednesday during a press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We are concerned because we feel that Israel has not done what the Israeli side was required to do."

Israel provoked anger in the Arab world with this week’s announcement of plans to continue settlement construction in East Jerusalem, the location Palestinians seek for their future capital.

Palestinian negotiators refused peace talk resumption after Israel declined to renew a settlement freeze that expired on 26 September.

French officials have echoed calls that Israel is to blame for stalled negotiations.

Two and a half years after the inception of the Union for the Mediterranean, which includes 43 nations, the 27 European Union nations in addition to Turkey, Israel, and Arab nations along the Mediterranean coast, the initiative still faces numerous setbacks.

This partnership has gone from disappointment to disappointment because of Israel foreign policy, officials said, particularly after the attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008, and the human rights flotilla attacks in May.

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