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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abu Mazen waits for quartet; Israel waits for US

There are apparently two sets of invitations that are to be issued on Monday to direct talks between Israel and the 'Palestinian Authority.' One will be issued by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of the 'quartet,' and that is the one to which the 'Palestinians' will reply. The other will be issued by President Obama and that is the one to which Israel will reply. Here's Maan on the 'Palestinians.'
President Mahmoud Abbas is awaiting a statement from the Middle East Quartet to decide whether to resume direct talks with Israel, a Fatah official said Friday.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said a statement would be issued by the Quartet – which is also represented by the UN, the US, and Russia – early next week, in a letter seen by Agence-France Presse.

Ashton’s letter, sent to EU foreign ministers, said the statement would reaffirm the Quartet’s call in March for Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, AFP reported.

Ashton said requested a few more days to consult with Arab partners and Palestinian political bodies, but that he “should be in a position to give a definitive answer by Sunday or early next week,” adding that talks could resume in late August.

Nimer Hammad, Abbas’ political advisor, said the president would wait for the Quartet statement to be issued before coming to a decision.
But Israel's 'septet' - the narrow cabinet - has decided that it will not accept the quartet's reservations, and it will only accept an invitation to the talks from the United States. Israel views the quartet invitation as a figleaf to allow the 'Palestinians' to return to talks.
Israel will not accept the frame of reference for the talks set out by the Quartet and instead, will only accept a declaration to direct talks from Washington, Israel Radio reported.

It is very probable that a separate declaration from the US to Israel and the Palestinians will be received without preliminary conditions.

PA officials said over the weekend that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to announce his agreement to enter direct talks with Israel within 48 hours.

The Abbas announcement on the resumption of direct negotiations with Israel, which broke off in December 2008, comes in response to the United States’ demand that the two sides sit down face to face, officials said.

“The heavy pressure that the Americans put on us is unprecedented,” said one official in Ramallah.

“The president has no choice but to succumb,” the official added.

The official said that the pressure was coming not only from the Americans, but also from the Europeans and some Arab countries.

As a result, there is speculation among some PA officials that Abbas could drop his demand that Israel halt all settlement construction as a precondition to direct talks.

Instead, according to some PA officials, Abbas could come to the table on the basis of a Quartet demand that Israel must freeze settlement construction, even if Israel has yet to comply. The PA would insist, however, on the extension of the 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction, which expires on September 26.
So the two sides will come to the table with radically different expectations. What could go wrong?


At 3:10 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Even if direct talks resume - will they lead to any agreement? No!

There's the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about - Hamas. It will reject any real compromise peace agreement that might be reached.

And the PA is more afraid of being branded a sellout than it is eager for an agreement with Israel.

I don't see one happening any time soon.


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