Israel believes Abbas on the verge of agreeing to peace talks..

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Last update - 03:34 05/01/2010

Israel believes Abbas on the verge of agreeing to peace talks

By Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff, Mazal Mualem and Natasha Mozgovaya

Tags: Israel news

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed cautious optimism Monday that talks with the Palestinians will soon resume.

"In recent weeks, I've had the impression there is a certain change in atmosphere, and I hope that a maturation that would enable the negotiating process to move forward has occurred," he told a meeting of his Likud faction at the Knesset.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said Netanyahu was particularly encouraged by Monday's meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

For weeks, Abbas has been insisting that he will not resume negotiations unless Israel completely freezes construction in West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem. But at Monday's meeting, Abbas repeatedly said that he would postpone any decision on whether or not to restart the talks until he sees what happens during next week's visit to Washington by two senior Egyptian officials, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Israeli officials now believe that Abbas will agree to resume the talks after that visit, or else after U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell's visit a few days later. However, they predicted, he will first try to wrest as many guarantees as possible from the American administration.

Nevertheless, in an interview with the Palestinians News Agency after his meeting with Mubarak, Abbas reiterated that his view on the need for a complete settlement freeze has not changed.

"The minute there is a complete freeze on the settlements and recognition of the international community's decisions, we will return to the negotiating table without reservations," he said.

A senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team also told Haaretz on Monday that Abbas' demand for a freeze on construction in East Jerusalem has not changed.

Abbas enjoys considerable support for this precondition in the Arab world: The Arab League is backing him on it, and though Egypt has been pressing him to resume negotiations, Saudi Arabia has pointedly refused to join the Egyptian effort.

Abbas insisted that he was not seeking any American guarantees beyond this. "We don't want guarantees; we want a clear, well-prepared basis for negotiations," he said.

But in practice, Palestinian sources said, he apparently plans to insist that this "basis" include a guarantee that talks will resume at the point at which they left off under Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert.

According to Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki, the Abbas-Mubarak meeting focused on an Egyptian proposal for reviving the talks that includes a promise of a Palestinian state within two years and American letters of assurance to both Israel and the PA about the nature of the final-status agreement.

Prior to the meeting, Zaki stressed that at the moment, these are ideas only. "Everyone is thinking about the best way to restart the talks," he told the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram. "If these ideas are realized, everyone will welcome it."

Netanyahu, at his meeting with Likud MKs, also stressed that the current flurry of diplomatic activity is focused solely on ideas for reviving the talks. Commenting on reports in the press about various concessions he has allegedly agreed to make on final-status issues, he said, "The peace plans that are being ascribed to me in the media are untrue."

"We are serious in our intention to reach a peace agreement, but we will insist that the outcome of the negotiations be determined at the negotiating table," he continued. "Israel is ready for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions."

At a meeting Monday with former British prime minister Tony Blair, who is now serving as the Quartet's special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu urged the international community to press Abbas to resume the talks.

"We must start talking," he said. "The international community must refrain from taking steps that are liable to cause the Palestinian side to harden its positions. Instead, everyone must act in a way that will encourage the Palestinians to return to negotiations."

The Quartet is comprised of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

But unlike Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed pessimism yesterday about the possibility of talks with the Palestinians achieving results in the near future even if they do resume.

"It will not be possible to reach a complete agreement in two years," Lieberman warned Blair during his meeting with the envoy. "It is not a realistic target. We must begin direct talks without committing to any deadline. In the past, we have set deadlines that were not kept and it led to violence."

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Looks like there is good chance to resolve the conflict at moment. and it has nothing to do with Israel nor Palestine.
when Shimon Peres talked about a" New Middle East" he did not talk about that , but today we really see a new Middle east.
a Middle east with British and American control in every country in the region.
two countries are still missing Yemen and Iran . Yemen is an easy task to the British American troops. Iran will be a long campaign similar to the Iraqi campaign .
the Arab dictators always had an interest to keep the Israel palestinian conflict going on. it helped all of them control their people AKA "yes we have troubles in out countries but look what the Zionists are doing to your Arab brothers"

but there is one thing that the Arab leaders can not live with and that is a nuclear Iran. putting the resolution of the Israeli palestinian conflict as a condition to dealing with Iran by the Americans means that we are in a place where the Arab leader have an interest for peace. if Israel will know how to be smart here that is a very good chance to a final peace agreement very soon.
Israel will have to take some pressure and heat from the Americans at the moment to help the Arab leaders selling the two state solution Idea to the Arab world.
That's the way I read the world map at the moment at least but the middle east being the middle east everything can change any second
well Jordon and Egypt had a huge interest to sign the peace deal
and since most Arab countries are non democratic there is a huge different between what the Arab leaders say to the international community and what they say and do in their own countries.
the ONLY solution was always a two state solution most Israelis and most Palestinians recognise that.
we can keep blaming Israel and the Israelis and the Zionists but the fact is that the Zionists voted time after time for a two state solution. in fact there is not one Zionist party in the Israeli Knesset coalition today that does not supports a two state solution and that is includes the Likud party and israel beitenu.
the powers that stopped the two states solution were always an outside parties either Americans/British , Russians , Arabs and Iranians.
and the fact of the matter is that America and UK has an army base today in almost every country in the region. and the support of most Arab leaders .
I was fighting for a two state solution since I remember myself I was fighting for equal rights for the Israeli Arabs since I remember my self I know that we won that war in the Israeli public and in the palestinian public yet the two states solution is not coming and it is only BC of outsiders
Michael :


++++ Yes.

" Why can Jews not live in any part of Palestine including Jordan while Arabs can live in Israel?"

++++ They can. But not yet legally. Because of occupation, and during the occupation state can't sent their citizens to occupied areas. After peaceagreement it's up to government in question, decide immigration policy.

" Anything else is just side issues."

++++ Nope. There are other issues also.



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