Obama`s envoy meet Netanyahu to save Middle East peace talks

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.

PTI



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

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