Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Direct Talks ...maybe? If the Arab League permits.

From JPost, 13 July 2010, by By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON:

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah on Monday did not rule out the possibility that the PA would agree to begin direct negotiations with Israel, in what appears to be a departure from its previous position.

...Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Likud Knesset faction on Monday there was no alternative to “sitting around the table and talking,” and that the conditions were ripening for such talks. There was growing agreement among leaders in the world on the need for direct talks, Netanyahu said.

... the PA was waiting for US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell – who is scheduled to return to the region at the end of the week to once more push for direct talks – to see if he is carrying replies to a number of questions presented to him by the Palestinians. Among the questions the Palestinians want answers to are whether Israel would be willing to freeze construction in all West Bank settlements and in east Jerusalem, and to recognize the June 4, 1967, lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, when he was asked repeatedly during his visit to Washington last week whether he would extend the 10-month settlement freeze that expires on September 26, was careful not to give an unequivocal answer, saying that he wanted to first get into direct negotiations...

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed that Obama had urged the PA to agree to direct negotiations...

...Netanyahu is expected to go to Sharm e- Sheikh on Wednesday to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and discuss the issue of direct talks, with Abbas expected to meet with the Egyptian leader shortly thereafter....

...Abbas has made it clear that he would not agree to launch direct negotiations with Israel unless he first received backing from the Arab League foreign ministers. The Arab League had approved an earlier request from Abbas to launch the indirect “proximity talks” with Israel, and the issue of Arab League approval was expected to be high on the agenda of the Netanyahu-Mubarak talks....
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