Aluf Benn has written in an article published in Haaretz this evening that “The Palestinian Authority is conducting a campaign to isolate Israel, based on the Goldstone report and the hatred for the Netanyahu government. Political scientists Shaul Mishal and Doron Mazza are calling it ‘the white intifada’, which is aimed at enlisting international support for a unilateral declaration of independence in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. In a document they distributed last week, they warn of Israeli complaisance and present a disturbing scenario: The Palestinians declare independence, and Israel refuses to recognize it and is faced with a boycott. Regardless of whether it yields or reacts with force, Israel cannot win, and will also lose control of the process. Therefore the two scholars recommend a preemptive diplomatic move … Obama’s approach – to ‘park’ the diplomatic process for lack of achievements and to concentrate on domestic issues – has not surprised Netanyahu. Three months ago, a senior Israeli official said the Obama administration would probably put off the Israeli-Palestinian problem to his second term, explaining: ‘Now they’re weak, they have unemployment and the economic crisis, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and they aren’t emerging from that. They don’t have the strength to complete an agreement. In the meantime, the maintenance will continue.” U.S. officials are hoping talks will be renewed within six months. The main thing is that there be some negotiations. They have no expectations of more than that … In the coming weeks Israel apparently will request an American veto in the Security Council again, in order to bury the Goldstone report. Netanyahu is planning a fourth meeting with Obama, concerning the nuclear security conference in Washington on April 12 and perhaps even before then. The agenda will center on Iran – or ‘the new Amalek‘, as Netanyahu called it in Auschwitz on Wednesday. The question is whether alongside his demand that Obama take action against Iran, Netanyahu will also tell him that in exchange, Israel will take some sort of initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians. This would be in an attempt to persuade the world to believe him and ameliorate Israel’s increasing diplomatic isolation”. This article can be read in full on Haaretz’s website here.
According to another report also posted this evening in Haaretz. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he was considering the U.S. proposal to start indirect talks with Israel. Abbas was referring to a proposal made by U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, who suggested that negotiations between Israel and the PA would take place in the format of proximity talks, similar to the indirect negotiations that Israel held with Syria under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert” …
his Haaretz article continues: “Mitchell proposes that he travel between Jerusalem and Ramallah, relaying messages to the two sides on various core issues, including borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security. At a later stage the talks might be taken over by low-level officials on both sides to evaluate if negotiations can be continued at top levels. Speaking to reporters in London, Abbas said he intended to consult with other Arab states over the U.S. proposal. He said he was under no pressure from the Arab states to restart negotiations and instead emphasized the need for a complete building freeze in the settlements. Abbas added that the PA and Israel had come to a security agreement that would be implemented once Israel Defense Forces troops pulled out of Palestinian land. On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the release of hundreds of Fatah prisoners as part of efforts to jump-start the peace talks”. This report is published here.
In a briefing at the U.S. State Department in Washington on 26 January, Acting Deputy Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner told journalist that “Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell completed a series of meetings in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Egypt. We remain committed to achieving our goal of comprehensive peace in the Middle East. With the Israelis and Palestinians, Special Envoy Mitchell continued the two-pronged approach we have consistently pursued: (1) To encourage the parties to enter negotiations to reach agreement on all permanent status issues; and (2) to help the Palestinians build the economy and institutions that will be necessary when a Palestinian state is established. The two objectives are mutually reinforcing. Each is essential. Neither can be attained without the other. Special Envoy Mitchell will be following up with the parties in the coming days and he will return to the region in the near future”.
At about the same time, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak “called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table. ‘I am proud to be a member of a government that has taken upon itself the responsibility of addressing issues pertaining to the Road Map’, he said. While Israel is the strongest country in the region, Barak said that time ‘is not on our side. We need to stand with our eyes open and stable feet… to look for a crack or a window to make peace’, he said. ‘We have a paramount interest in establishing defined borders between ourselves and the Palestinians, that will set the stage for two states for two peoples’.” Barak also said that “uranium enrichment on Iranian soil cannot be legitimized, since this will lead to an Iranian military nuclear capability”. These remarks were reported by the Jerusalem Post here.