PLO okays indirect talks, seeks results in months
As indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with US mediator George Mitchell today. The prime minister seems to be eager to make progress and move forward toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. The first step will be to meet with each group individually and eventually move toward direct talks.
"If there is a desire to get to direct talks through a corridor then I think the sooner the better," Netanyahu, referring to U.S.-mediated "proximity talks", told reporters at the start of his meeting with Mitchell (Haaretz.com).
The Palestinian Liberation Organization has approved the go ahead for the talks, but warn if borders for the new state are not defined within four months they will walk away. "This peace process cannot go on forever," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Now it's time for decisions (Haaretz.com).
With the inclusion of the Arab League in the decision making process, I don't believe Palestinian Leader Abbas will be able to walk away as easily as in the past. I have to believe we are at a point where both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going to be under tremendous pressure to agree to a peace treaty. But for this to be a success, it will be up to the Arab League to squash any attempts of a PA walkout and the US to pressure Israel into making deep concessions.
The focus of the talks will center on the key issues of "final borders, the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees, and a resolution to the rival claims to Jerusalem (Haaretz.com)."
Regarding the last key issue, senior Jerusalem city official Yakir Segev, said the Israeli government is standing in the way of progress toward a unified Jerusalem.
"We're trying to get funding for projects in the eastern part of the city, but Finance Ministry officials are holding back. There's a sense that some of them just don't care, because they think there's no point in investing in eastern Jerusalem, because we are not going to stay there in any case,” Segev explained (IsraelNationalNews).
This is an astounding declaration by a Jerusalem city official regarding the mindset of the Israeli government. They have all but conceded East Jerusalem to be the future Palestinian capital. Netanyahu has stated time and again that all of Jerusalem would remain the eternal capital of Israel. This is just another example of what you hear a politician say isn't necessarily what happens.
I can't tell you what the immediate direction of the talks will be, but I think it's safe to say Israel believes they will eventually lose the West Bank and Jerusalem to the creation of a Palestinian state. When this will happen is anyone's guess but I would have to lean toward soon!
Breaking News: The American-born spokesman for al-Qaida has been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in the southern city of Karachi, two officers and a government official said Sunday, the same day Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging U.S. Muslims to attack their own country (AP).
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