Middle East Direct Peace Talks: Where We Are Right Now And What Must Be Done
Debkafile sources are suggesting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Damascus on Saturday was more than just a brief stopover. Sources indicate that his visit was for the purpose of finalizing plans of a proposed Hezbollah coup of the Lebanese government.
If this report turns out to be true, this would be bad news for both the US and Israel. The US has poured millions of dollars in financial and military aid, including weapons, into Lebanon over the last few years, while Israel would be faced with the possibility of their next war with Hezbollah in possession of advanced US weaponry
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that direct talks would not last "for a single day" if Israel did not extend the building freeze past the September 26th deadline. "The negotiations will continue as long as the settlement (construction) remains frozen, but I am not prepared to negotiate an agreement for a single day more," Abbas told AFP (AFP).
At this time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving no indication that the freeze will continue.
Speaking en route to New York on Monday, Abbas stressed he was "not opposed to a settlement freeze for a month or two" and that it was possible "to conclude a peace deal on all final status issues if the settlement freeze is extended."
"If Israel stops the settlement and shows goodwill, then we can reach an agreement on borders and security, and agreement on other matters like the status of Jerusalem, water and settlements will follow" in due course, he told AFP (AFP).
The United States has decided not to take any chances. Rumor has it that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered to turnover Jonathan Pollard, a convicted spy, to the Israeli government in exchange for extending the settlement freeze for an additional three months.
US officials are denying that any such exchange has been proposed.
It will be interesting to see which direction direct peace talks take over the next six days. I think it's safe to say that the next six days will be a very crucial period of time for the peace process.
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