Last Ditch Efforts To Extend Peace Talks Fail
Efforts to extend the collapsing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) past their April 29 deadline have failed, according to a PA source.
The latest meeting, which was held in a Jerusalem hotel late Thursday with US envoy Martin Indyk, included five hours of "very difficult discussions," the source told AFP.
"The gap (between the parties) is still wide. There was no breakthrough," acknowledged the source.
While Indyk will hold more meetings on Friday, this time he intends to talk to the Israelis and the PA separately. Negotiators on the two sides met without Indyk on Sunday, and with him last week in efforts to save the peace talks as they wind down.
The latest talk attempts on Thursday began the same day that thousands of Arab residents of Gaza, Judea and Samaria protested in the streets for "Prisoners Day," in which they demanded the release of terrorists held by Israel. In Hevron dozens of Arab protesters attacked IDF soldiers and border police with rocks.
Autopsy of the peace talks
Talks broke down two weeks ago when PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas breached talk conditions by applying to join 15 international conventions.
That move came days after Israel put the final terrorist release on hold, due to the total lack of progress in talks, and progress being a condition of the move meant as a "gesture" to promote the talks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry last Tuesday blamed Israel for the collapse of talks while speaking before the Senate, saying "Israel didn't release the Palestinian prisoners on the day they were supposed to be freed, and another day passed, and another day, and then another 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and 'poof'...that was sort of the moment."
Regarding the newly announced housing units in Israel's capital, it is worth noting that a construction freeze was never made a condition of the talks.
As for Abbas's unilateral move, which indeed was a breach of conditions, Kerry merely noted it was "clearly unhelpful."