Nov 29, 2010

PA Pours Cold Water on New Talks

David DolanBy David Dolan

The prospects that a new round of peace negotiations will actually take place seemed to dim in late November when PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech before his Fatah partly leaders in Ramallah spelling out his conditions for resuming the frozen talks. He said his PA autonomy government would only sit at the negotiating table again if Israel declares a complete settlement building freeze which included the eastern half of Jerusalem, and agrees to tackle the thorny border issue first. An unidentified Israeli official told journalists that “It is a pity he is entrenching himself in his pre-conditions, and we don't understand the logic. It is almost as if he is searching for excuses not to negotiate.” Some Israeli analysts said that is precisely the case, since Abbas fears a showdown with Hamas and its regional backers far more than he wants a peace deal with Israel.

Israeli officials admit that the touted negotiations are in limbo due to the question of which of the many issues that needs to be addressed would be discussed during the proposed three month construction freeze. PM Netanyahu has stated several times that he wants overall security to be the first issue discussed. This came as indications grew that the Obama administration was backing away from its earlier pledge to give the Israeli government a written guarantee that this would be the final building freeze it would ever demand. Analysts said the Americans apparently want to keep open the possibility of yet another freeze in the future if the peace talks make little progress during the proposed three month ban. It was not clear by the end of November if Netanyahu would go ahead and attempt to seek cabinet approval for a new housing halt without the promised US guarantee.

Related Links

East Jerusalem housing gets preliminary OK - Washington Post
Israel assessed Abbas as weak - WikiLeaks - News24
Israel appoints new Mossad chief - UPI
UN officials call on Israelis, Palestinians to show courage needed to make peace - Xinhua
Holy War for the Promised Land: Israel at the Crossroads - David Dolan (Book)