CAIRO, May 18 (KUNA) -- Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Bin Helli said Monday the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip brought to a standstill the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), also known as the Barcelona Process.
"This fact shows the close interrelation of all the Mediterranean issues on top of which is the Palestine question," he told reporters after meeting the high-level delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) here.
"All developments highlight the fact that the Palestine question is the central and core issue for the Middle East," Bin Helli said.
He urged for concerted efforts by all concerned parties to bring the Middle East peace process back to track.
"It is high time to implement the Arab peace initiative and find a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab side has specified months, not years, as a time ceiling for the implementation of the initiative which means that 2009 is a crucial year for the peace process," he made clear.
The envisaged peace talks must be preceded by total freeze of the Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied Arab territories and re-launching the talks from the point they had reached before rather than return to square one, the league official noted.
He voiced hope that the US administration would adopt an objective unbiased approach in tune with this tendency, rather than backing the Israeli unilateral stance.
A high-level PAM delegation led by President Rudy Salles, of France, started a tour of the Middle East on May 17 which will last until Friday May 22.
The tour aims to assess the prospects of reviving the stalled peace process and lobby for the two-state solution, PAM Secretary General Mohammad Abul-Enin, of Egypt, said.
The delegates are scheduled to visit Gaza Strip on Tuesday to inspect the large-scale destruction inflicted on the territory by the Israeli military aggression in January.
On Wednesday, they will head for Ramallah city, the West Bank, to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before leaving for Jerusalem to meet leaders of the Israeli Knesset. The tour will take the PAM mission also to Amman, capital of Jordan. (end) KUNA 182326 May 09NNNN