Talks to Resume: US Wants Deal in One Year

The US announced that upcoming direct talks between Israel and the PA set for September would "resolve all final status issues... within one year.”

Contact Editor
David Lev, | updated: 22:44

Binyamin Netanyahu (file)
Binyamin Netanyahu (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The United States on Friday announced that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would resume at the beginning of September. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA chief Mahmoud Abbas “to relaunch direction negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.” The talks will kick off with a peace summit, which Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah will also attend.
Reports said that there was not yet any agreement on the specific issues that would be discussed, where the working talks would take place, or at what level. In addition, PA officials saying that they would not participate in the talks if the building freeze in Judea and Samaria was not extended, while the Netanyahu government has pledged numerous times not to extend the freeze.


World leaders praised the renewed talks, with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saying in a statement Saturday that “we should all be aware that this is an opportunity that must not be wasted.” EU leaders made similar statements, with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle that “it's now up to the two parties to look ahead and have the courage to find solutions for all the key open questions.”

However, problems arose immediately after the announcement. Talks on the major issues are supposed to proceed on September 2nd, after the invited leaders get together for the summit a day earlier. Reports Saturday night said that there was not yet any agreement on the specific issues that would be discussed after the initial summit, where the working talks would take place, or at what level. In addition, PA officials saying that they would not participate in the talks if the building freeze in Judea and Samaria was not extended, while the Netanyahu government has pledged numerous times not to extend the freeze when it expires in late September. Speaking Friday, Clinton said that “without a doubt we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the inception of talks, with a statement by his office saying that “the prime minister has been calling for direct negotiations for the past year and a half. He was pleased with the American clarification that the talks would be without preconditions.” Hamas denounced the talks immediately, saying its representatives would not attend, even if they were invited. “The Palestinian people will not feel bound by the results of this misleading invitation,” a Hamas spokesperson said.

Reaction was mixed on the right in Israel on the renewal of talks. MK Ofer Akunis, head of the Likud's response team, said that the American announcement was “a great victory for Israel. It took a year and a half to convince the international community and the Palestinians that direct talks is the only way to achieve a settlement. This is further evidence that when you stand up for your principles, you achieve diplomatic results.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud) said that the announcement was a positive one, assuming that Israel stated its positions clearly - “peace with the Palestinians, but without a separate Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria with its capital in Jerusalem, a Palestinian recognition of our rights in the Land of Israel, and no right of return. The Prime Minister must clarify to President Obama that Israel will not participate in diplomatic games that raise false hopes, based on positions that are against the will of the Israeli public.”

On Saturday night, Yesha Council head Danny Dayan said that “since the U.S. has stated that all the core issues will be discussed, Israel must inform the administration that it will not discuss dividing Jerusalem, removal of settlements, a return to the 1967 border, or the return of refugees.”








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