PA: Peace Talks So Far Have Been 'Futile'
A senior official in the Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday that Middle East peace talks have so far proved "futile" and called for greater U.S. participation in talks.
"Until now there has been no progress," the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Yasser Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio, in remarks quoted by the AFP news agency, after several weeks of meetings between Israeli and PA negotiators.
"Despite our decision to take part in talks, we're now seeing what we expected -- that there is little hope for their progress, in fact that hope is non-existent and negotiations are futile," he said.
"Saving this political process not only (requires) promises of more U.S. meetings with the sides, but also a clear US stance and pressure on Israel," Abed Rabbo warned.
PA officials have complained about the lack of direct American involvement in the talks, which began last month after intense efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to bring both sides to the table.
Ahead of the first bilateral meetings in Jerusalem on August 14, Israel announced plans to build more than 2,000 Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. The move angered PA negotiators, despite the fact that they were informed of the building prior to the latest round of talks, and despite the fact that the construction will take place in areas which even the PA has accepted in previous negotiations will be within Israeli borders.
"Israel hasn't committed to halting settlement building. We've seen the continuation of settlement building, which is destroying any chance for this political process," Abed Rabbo said.
"Either this occupation and all settlement building ceases, or the process is doomed to failure and collapse," he added.
The talks have been held under a U.S.-imposed media blackout, with no official announcements of when or where they are to take place.
"The number and dates of talks are not important. I'm not following exactly when the meetings have taken place, and this is not what we're interested in," Abed Rabbo said.
"The fundamental issue is that until now there are no indications these talks have achieved any progress whatsoever."
On Tuesday, Israeli negotiators headed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and PA negotiators headed by Saeb Erekat met for the sixth session of peace talks. The meeting was the first negotiation session that is being held in an area under Israeli sovereignty.
It is not known whether U.S. mediator Martin Indyk was present at the session. The U.S. State Department revealed on Sunday for the first time that Indyk had taken part in a meeting between the two parties since negotiations resumed in late July.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Rosh Hashanah in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)