Israel says deal with US Mitchell 'close' on talks with Palestine

U.S. President Obama's Middle East envoy is close to a deal with Israel on terms for resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, Israeli officials said.

Israel says deal with US Mitchell 'close' on talks with Palestine

U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy is close to a deal with Israel on terms for resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.

"There appears to be a meeting of the minds and hopefully the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue will be able to re-start in the near future," an Israeli official said, summing up talks held by negotiators for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

Under the prospective deal, on which Palestinians have not yet commented, the negotiations could be held on the basis of two decades-old U.N. Security Council resolutions, 242 and 338, another official said.

Such a formula could be acceptable to Israel since it interprets those resolutions as falling short of a demand to withdraw from all of the West Bank, territory it captured in a 1967 war.

Palestinians, who seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, hold that the resolutions, which call for "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict", obliges Israel to return to pre-1967 borders.

Palestinian negotiators were in Washington on Tuesday for talks with U.S. officials on how to relaunch negotiations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given no public sign he has dropped a main Palestinian condition for a resumption of negotiations -- an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank in accordance with a 2003 U.S.-backed peace "road map".

Progress report

A progress report U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to deliver within days to Obama on Middle East envoy George Mitchell's mediation efforts could clarify the situation.

Many Palestinians felt humiliated when Obama last month called for Israeli restraint on settlements rather than repeat his call for a complete freeze.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had refused to halt construction in settlements, avoiding calls by not only U.S. but also many European countries.

Palestinians fear that Israel's West Bank settlements, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, would block the formation of a viable and contiguous state.

The negotiations was suspended after Israel launched a military offensive in December in the Gaza Strip, killing 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children.

Under U.S. pressure, Netanyahu has agreed to negotiate the creation of a "demilitarised" Palestinian state that angered Palestinians who struggle to live Israel's military invansions and attacks.

But he said such a state must be demilitarised and Palestinians have to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a demand they fear could undermine claims to resettle and compensate Palestinian refugees who was deported by Israel in 1948 war over Jewish State's founding.

Reuters

Last Mod: 22 Ekim 2009, 10:56
Add Comment