Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mideast Talks: Is Peace Possible?

by Chris Mitchell

JERUSALEM, Israel -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is completing the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. She was in Ramallah on Thursday for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and also traveled to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas and Clinton met for about two hours in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell, who also sat in on the talks, gave an exceptionally upbeat report and described the meetings between Netanyahu and Abbas as "serious and substantive" at a press conference in Jerusalem Wednesday evening.

Mitchell refused to reveal any specifics about the negotiations. He did say they discussed core issues. That would include Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements, and the most contentious of all issue, Jerusalem.

"We take this as a strong indicator of their belief that peace is possible and of their desire to conclude an agreement," Mitchell said.

Israeli planes attacked terrorist targets in Gaza following an increase in mortar and rocket fire on Israeli communities that was seen as a Hamas attempt to stop the talks.

Not everyone thinks a signed agreement will resolve the conflict.

"My view on the current talks is that it could lead to a signing ceremony but it can't lead to a resolution of the problem," said Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes.

Pipes told CBN News that Washington is pushing for the negotiations, but neither Israel nor the Palestinians are interested in the talks.

"They're both doing it in order to accommodate the U.S. government," Pipes added. "The Israeli side is disillusioned by further talks with Palestinian leaders. On the Palestinian side, we have a so-called leader who has no legitimacy, whose overstayed his term, who has no power to speak of."

The talks may be short-lived anyway.

Media reports on Thursday said Palestinians are still threatening to quit the talks if Israel resumes building in Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - when a temporary freeze runs out on Sept. 26.

Chris Mitchell

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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