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Former PA Negotiator: Peace Deal 'Impossible'

Mohammed Shtayyeh says differences block peace deal possibility, opines that US is 'unbalanced' in favor of Israel.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 12/4/2013, 3:18 PM

PA negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh
PA negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh
Flash90

On Tuesday Mohammed Shtayyeh, a former Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator and senior aid to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said a peace deal with Israel is impossible due to wide gaps between the two positions.

Shtayyeh noted that he quit the negotiating team a month ago in protest of new Israeli building plans for Judea and Samaria. The move to quit negotiations was reportedly in violation of conditions of the talks, by which an Israeli building freeze was not set as a pre-condition.

Nevertheless the PA this week once again threatened to end talks unless Israel it cancelled tenders on 20,000 Judea and Samaria homes which it claims are still active.

According to Shtayyeh major differences in the two sides "block any possibility of a peace deal." In late November a senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official revealed that the PA is only staying in the peace talks to release all 104 terrorist prisoners promised as a "gesture."

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to Israel on Wednesday to keep pushing the peace talks.

However, Shtayyeh opined that the US mediation is "unbalanced" in favor of Israel, and that other world powers should be involved in the talks, according to the Lebanese Daily Star.

In the past concerns have been raised that the US mediation is precisely unbalanced in favor of the PA.

Martin Indyk was appointed by the US to mediate the talks in July. Indyk is co-chairman of the far-left New Israel Fund that funds a variety of anti-Israel groups.

In response to Indyk's appointment Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, requesting that he "ask the American administration for an honest broker for these negotiations."

Recently the rhetoric has been ratcheting up as to what the failure of floundering peace talks would mean.

On Tuesday a senior EU official threatened the EU would take action against both Israel and the PA should talks fail. According to the official, the EU would cut its 300 million Euros ($407.7 million) annual aid to the PA, and revive its plan to label Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas likewise threatened on Monday that the PA would take action against Israel via international bodies if the talks failed.

Reports in early November hinted that the US intends to "force" a peace deal between Israel and the PA if negotiations fail.