Indirect Peace Talks Will Begin This Week



By: DAN VERBIN  
Published: May 2nd 2010
in News » Israel

US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell
Pic: wikipedia commons

Indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are due to begin this week, brokered by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

 

Mitchell will act as a go-between, carrying proposals from one side to the other.

 

In a meeting in Cairo on Saturday, the Arab League voted to support the “proximity talks” proposed by the US. In March, it had given its support to four months of indirect negotiations but then withdrew its consent after the approval of new housing units in East Jerusalem was announced during a visit to Israel by American Vice President Joe Biden.

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas agreed to resume negotiations last week after discussions with the US government, according to the New York Times.

 

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he welcomed the negotiations and that he was interested in talking “at any time and at any place,” according to the Associated Press. He added that negotiations must resume “without preconditions.”

 

Officials for both sides are saying that they expect the talks to move beyond generalities to discuss the “core issues” that have plagued the conflict since its beginning.

 

Ynet reported that Israel will begin the negotiations on Wednesday. Netanyahu will personally lead the opening meeting.

 

The Prime Minister travels to Egypt on Monday to inform Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of how the plan is advancing.

 

Later in the month, Abbas is set to fly to Washington DC to meet President Barack Obama at the White House.

 

On Sunday, Abbas said in an interview with al-Ayyam, a West Bank newspaper, that he will insist upon Israel transferring huge areas of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. These would include the Jordan Valley and areas under full and partial Israel control. He also said that he was pessimistic that indirect negotiations would made headway.

 

"I do not want to lose hope, and prefer to remain hopeful even though I detect many hurdles and despite the sense that in Israel there are people uninterested in peace. We still must try to walk this path until we find it,” he said.

 

Abbas added that he had been assured by the US that it was dedicated to “not  (allowing) any provocative measures from any party,” which is being reported as a reference to Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

 

Since the end of the Gaza war, Israel has been calling for the restart of peace talks without preconditions. However, the Palestinians have been steadfast that they will not agree to talks unless Israel freezes construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a precursor. Israel has agreed to a 10-month moratorium in the West Bank, but not to a full freeze including East Jerusalem.

 

Mitchell has spend months using “shuttle diplomacy” to convince both sides to come back to the table, if indirectly. The new round of talks signals a small step toward the resumption of full negotiations.

 


Related articles: (Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, abbas, arab league, negotiations, indirect, east jerusalem)




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