By Ted Belman
Hilary Clinton invited Netanyahu and Abbas to commence direct talks. Both agreed. Where the disagreement comes in is that Netanyahu will proceed on the basis that there are no preconditions including a continued freeze, assuming he hasn’t agreed in private to continue it.
The PA on the other hand, gave a conditional acceptance.
“The PLO executive committee announces its acceptance of a resumption of direct negotiations with Israel, in accordance with the statement by the international Middle East Quartet and the invitation by the United States,”
In effect there is no agreement. The gaps are as wide as ever. The parties will never negotiate a compromise solution.
NYT says, Scant Hopes From the Beginning
There is little confidence — close to none — on either side that the Obama administration’s goal of reaching a comprehensive deal in one year can be met.
Instead, there is a resigned fatalism in the air. Most analysts view the talks as pairing the unwilling with the unable — a strong right-wing Israeli coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with no desire to reach an agreement against a relatively moderate Palestinian leadership that is too weak and divided to do so.
So Bibi is labelled “unwilling”. Certainly not with respect to entering direct talks but more likely, to giving the Palestinians what they are demanding. But the Times doesn’t distinguish. But poor Abbas is only “unable”. As we know, he was also unwilling to enter talks.
But if Abbas is unable, as they suggest it is because they recognize he is unable to compromise. Thus what hope for M.E. talks?
The PA is counting on the Quartet applying pressure on Israel. The first test will be Sept 26 when the freeze ends.
Already, Erekat has said,
“Should the Israeli government issue new tenders on September 26, we will not be able to continue with talks,”
US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell was the only one to address the issue of the settlement construction freeze in a rather vague statement in which he noted that the US’s stance on settlements had not changed. He stressed that both parties should act in way which would support the peace process and not compromise it.
However, senior Israeli state officials told Ynet on Friday that a continuation of the construction freeze was “not on the table.”
“There is a government decision – and we shall abide by it,” one source said. There is a majority in the forum of seven cabinet ministers which endorses the end of the freeze at the designated date. Only two ministers might support a continuation – Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor.
Stay strong Bibi.