Are Direct Mideast Peace Talks Dead? U.S. Says ‘That’s What We’re Trying to Figure Out’

December 9, 2010

(ChattahBox World News)—So, what’s next for Middle East peace talks? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not enter into direct talks with Israel, unless a settlement freeze is put in place. But the Israelis are going full steam ahead with Jewish settlements. Are direct negotiations between the the Palestinians, the Arab League and Israel stalled for the indefinite future? As long as Jewish settlements continue in disputed/occupied territories in the Wast Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians will refuse to engage in talks. And while the United States has given up trying to persuade Israel to freeze settlements, while still officially condemning the settlements, any future peace talks conducted separately with U.S. envoys would have little impact in securing a deal in the near future. And U.S. officials are acknowledging this new uncertain reality. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley, said “That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” when asked about the framework of future talks.

After meeting in Cairo with Arab League leaders, Abbas announced that direct talks were over. Abbas is dispatching his chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat to Washington to clarify the State Department’s policy on Israeli settlements.

‘“We will not accept negotiations as long as settlement goes on,” Abbas told reporters. He said Erakat went to Washington because “things can’t be solved on the phone.”’

“President Barack Obama is sending envoy George Mitchell back to the Middle East next week to determine whether it is still possible to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks that have been stalled since mid-September, Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said yesterday.”

“Israel’s chief negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, is already in Washington for talks with Clinton and Mitchell to prepare for the U.S. envoy’s separate meetings with Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, according to an Israeli government official who asked not to be identified because Molcho’s itinerary had not been officially announced.”

And amid all of this activity to revive talks, the State Department is reiterating its official policy of condemning Jewish settlements in disputed territories, while also acknowledging the U.S. holds little sway over the right-wing and hard-liners that make up BiBi’s shaky coalition.

“As the United States continues with its attempts to renew talks, Crowley said, U.S. ‘position on settlements has not and will not change.”‘

‘”The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements, and we will continue to express that position,” the State Department spokesman added.”

In an attempt to salvage something from the standstill, the Obama administration is sending peace envoy envoy George Mitchell to the region next week.

Photo Surce: Wikimedia/”The Shepard,” an environmental statue in the entrance to Eschar, Israel, made by local artist Avigdor Bar-Yosef/Public Domain.


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