BBC NEWS | 2010/05/05 | 19:12:44 GMT
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the start of indirect talks with the Palestinians. The three-hour meeting in Jerusalem was described as "good and productive" by the US state department. But no announcements were made and Israeli officials have said the two are to meet again on Thursday. Mr Mitchell is due to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in Ramallah. The meeting with Mr Netanyahu had been planned as the start of "proximity talks" but the Palestine Liberation Organisation has still to agree to them. The PLO said it would meet on Saturday to finally decide if talks can proceed.
Mr Abbas said on Wednesday that the indirect talks should last four months, after which the Palestinians would consult with the Arab League on whether to continue. The negotiations need to immediately grapple with the toughest issues at the heart of the conflict, he said. He said first on the agenda should be the borders of a future Palestinian state. But the issue, connected to the building of Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, has been a stumbling block. The talks were delayed in March by a row which strained Israeli-US relations.
BBC News | Friday, 30 April 2010 | 19:15 GMT
Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks are set to start next week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says. Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Washington that US special envoy George Mitchell would be returning to the region next week. Plans to launch the indirect negotiations failed last month over a row about Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since 2008. "We will be starting with proximity talks next week," Mrs. Clinton said. "Ultimately we want to see parties in direct negotiations and working out all the difficult issues that they must." Washington expected that Arab foreign ministers meeting on Saturday would endorse the new talks, she added. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "We are making every possible effort to begin these talks. But the official decision will be made by the Arab foreign ministers and the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organisation] executive committee." Israeli officials have not publicly commented on Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.
The US has been struggling to get the proximity talks under way. These were knocked off course by an announcement in March that Israel had approved plans for the new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo during a visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden. The Palestinians – who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state – then pulled out of the scheduled indirect talks last month in protest. Mr Mitchell’s team has been actively trying to extract guarantees from the Israelis to bring the Palestinians back to the proposed talks.
BBC NEWS | Friday, 23 April 2010 | 13:29 GMT
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the hope of ending a row over Israeli building in East Jerusalem. Mr Mitchell met Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, on his first visit since the disagreement scuppered planned indirect peace talks. Reports suggested Israel may be willing to make several gestures to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiations. But Israel’s PM has stressed he will not stop building in East Jerusalem. Ahead of his meeting with Mr Mitchell, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was "serious" about trying to advance peace, and hoped the Palestinians would "respond". Mr Mitchell stressed the "unbreakable bond" between the US and Israel. Officials said the two would meet again on Sunday, after Mr Mitchell has met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later on Friday.
The Palestinians pulled out of the scheduled "proximity talks" last month after Israel approved a plan for 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want the capital of their future state. That announcement, as US Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting to launch the negotiations, triggered a crisis in relations between Israel and its greatest ally, Washington. A planned visit by Mr Mitchell in March was cancelled. The US has requested that Israel make a series of moves, which have not been officially made public, to reassure the Palestinians. As Mr Mitchell arrived, Mr Netanyahu stressed in a television interview that he would not yield to US pressure to completely halt building in the occupied East of Jerusalem. "I am saying one thing: there will be no freeze in Jerusalem," he said. But on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal
BBC News | Friday, 16 April 2010 | 08:36 GMT
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has again called on Israel to do more to pursue peace with the Palestinians. She urged Israel to support efforts by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to strengthen institutions. Mrs Clinton also called on the Palestinians to promote peace by ending incitement and fighting corruption. Jewish settlement construction has caused deep strain in relations between the US and Israel and has hampered efforts to revive peace talks. The secretary of state said supporting the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas was the best weapon to counter Hamas and other extremists. The US has been trying to launch proximity talks between the two sides. These were knocked off course by an announcement that Israel had approved plans for 1,600 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo during a visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.
The secretary of state called for "bold leadership" on all sides when she spoke at a dinner attended by the ambassadors of Israel and several Arab states. "Prime Minister Netanyahu has embraced the vision of the two-state solution," Mrs Clinton said. "But easing up on access and movement in the West Bank, in response to credible Palestinian security performance, is not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere." "We encourage Israel to continue building momentum toward a comprehensive peace by
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Israel’s ambassador to the US has said that relations between the two countries face their worst crisis for 35 years, Israeli media have reported. Last week Israeli officials announced the building of 1,600 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem while US Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting. Since the announcement, Palestinian leaders have said that indirect talks with Israel are now "doubtful". Previously the Israeli government had played down the strain in relations. But the Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told a conference call with Israeli consuls general in the US that "the crisis was very serious and we are facing a very difficult period in relations", the Israeli media reported on Monday.