Obama`s envoy meet Netanyahu to save Middle East peace talks
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 24, 2010, 18:36
Jerusalem: In last-ditch efforts to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, US President Barrack Obama's special envoy on Sunday met Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, even as his mission has been stalled over Israeli settlement constructions in the East Jerusalem.

Obama's special envoy for Middle East George Mitchell, has extended his stay and met Netanyahu after the Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is firm by his demand that Israel freeze all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem before he resumes talks, which broke off more than a year ago.

The hawkish Israeli premier said that he was presented with several interesting ideas as to how to restart peace talks with the Palestinians during his early morning meeting with Mitchell.

"The Palestinians must accept these ideas and I expressed hope that they will show a readiness to renew the process," Netanyahu said later at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting today.

He however did not elaborate on the content of those interesting ideas.

The US envoy was set to hold separate meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas on Sunday, despite signals that his efforts to restart talks between the two sides have failed once again.

Senior US officials were quoted in the local media as saying that they had low expectations of any major developments.

"No breakthrough is expected on the resumption of the negotiations during this visit," a source was quoted by daily Ha'aretz as saying.

The US officials reportedly asserted that they were still working on a formula that could restart talks between Israel and the PA. Mitchell would however not be carrying a letter of assurances to Israel and the Palestinians, they said.

"We are frustrated but not disheartened," a senior official was quoted as saying. "No breakthrough is expected but we are continuing with our efforts.

There are still things we have not tried," he further added. Israel and the PA have blamed each other for the deadlock in rekindling peace talks.

The PA has demanded that Israel halt all construction work in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, considered by the Palestinians as the Capital of a future State, and the peace talks start from where it was stopped in December 2008.

Israeli government has declared a temporary ten month moratorium on construction activities in the West Bank but Netanyahu has re-iterated that there is 'no limitation' on construction in united Jerusalem, meaning also the overwhelmingly Arab populated east Jerusalem annexed by Israel in the 1967 War.


First Published: Sunday, January 24, 2010, 18:36

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