Know More About Palestine

Wednesday May 5, 2010 9:32 PM (EST+7)

JERUSALEM, May 5 (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy held inconclusive talks on Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about efforts to resume stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in an indirect format.

A terse statement issued by Netanyahu's spokesman said the Israeli leader would meet again with the envoy, George Mitchell, on Thursday, making no reference to an earlier hoped-for launch this week of US-brokered negotiations.

An Israeli official told a reporter on condition of anonymity that these so-called proximity talks could not be announced before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated his agreement to join in.

Netanyahu and Mitchell met this evening for a working meeting of about three hours. They decided to meet again tomorrow, the Israeli leader's spokesman, Nir Hefez, said in a written statement after the two met in Jerusalem.

Mitchell was due to see Abbas, currently abroad, on Friday.
A spokesman for Abbas said earlier the Palestinians would participate in the indirect talks with Israel only after approval by the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Executive Committee, scheduled to convene on Saturday.

If the executive approves these indirect negotiations, all the final-status issues will be on the table for discussion, said Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah. Absolutely no issue will be excluded and Jerusalem will be the top priority.

Israeli leaders have said the Palestinians could raise core issues in the indirect talks but only direct negotiations could resolve them.

Washington has sought to revive talks on an indirect format, which would include Mitchell shuttling between the sides, to sidestep differences over Jewish settlements built in occupied land, which has delayed a resumption of negotiations for months.

There have been no direct Israeli-Palestinian talks for 18 months, a period that has included Israel's Gaza war, election of a right-wing Israeli government and entrenched rule in the Gaza Strip by Hamas Islamists opposed to the US peace efforts.







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