Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Saturday ongoing Palestinian-Israel peace talks would be brought to an end if Israel did not commit to halting settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In an interview with Arab-language satellite network Al-Arabiya, Moussa also said he had no doubts over US President Barack Obama's ability to persuade Israel to implement a further moratorium on settlement construction, which is due to expire by October.
Despite several warnings by President Mahmoud Abbas that he would withdraw from talks if Israel did not extend the freeze and include East Jerusalem in its mandate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will not prolong the 10-month ban.
Moussa further said Israel was free "to call itself whatever it likes, without any legal consequences," referring to Israel's demand that the Palestinian Authority and PLO recognize it as a Jewish state. "There is no official request in that respect."
"The UN Partition Plan made mention of a Jewish state but other articles on Jerusalem placed [the city] outside of this framework," the Arab League chief said, warning that the definition "will bring us back to South African Apartheid ... Citizens should be equal, otherwise we will face a new apartheid."
Palestinian negotiators have recognized Israel's right to exist but not as a Jewish state, which officials say would prejudice Israel's non-Jewish citizens and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Abbas to meet with Clinton
Meanwhile, Abbas said he would hold a second meeting with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Saturday, after meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss how to stop talks from reaching an impasse as Israel's moratorium deadline approaches.
While State Department spokesman Philip J Crowley did not confirm the meeting, he said it was "possible." Reports suggest, however, that the US is pressuring Netanyahu and Abbas to undertake all efforts to ensure talks do not collapse.
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Palestinian negotiators were "studying American efforts on continuing talks," but said Abbas' recent meeting with Clinton yielded no results.
He further denied that Palestinian negotiators had "showed any flexibility over the settlement freeze issue," saying both the PA and PLO have demanded a complete halt to construction in order for talks to progress.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack has decided to stay in New York "in a bid to rescue the peace process," Israel Radio reported, adding that his stay was coordinated by Netanyahu.