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Middle East Proximity Talks Start

May 9, 2010

Way to go Secretary Clinton (and Senator George Mitchell)!

This statement was released by the State Department today:

Statement on Special Envoy George Mitchell’s Trip

Special Envoy Mitchell left the Middle East on Sunday, after completing the first round of proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The talks were serious and wide-ranging.

Both parties are taking some steps to help create an atmosphere that is conducive to successful talks, including President Abbas’ statement that he will work against incitement of any sort and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that there will be no construction at the Ramat Shlomo project for two years. They are both trying to move forward in difficult circumstances and we commend them for that.

We have received commitments from both sides, and we have made assurances to both sides, that are enabling us to move forward. The full scope of these discussions will remain private.

As both parties know, if either takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue.

Special Envoy Mitchell emphasized the importance of making progress in these talks to enable the parties to move to direct negotiations that will result in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our overall goal remains a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

He will return to the region next week to continue the proximity talks.

More on the announcement:

…In the next four months, White House envoy George Mitchell will shuttle between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to narrow vast differences on the terms of Palestinian statehood.

The indirect talks mark the first concrete achievement in the Obama administration’s Middle East peace efforts. However, expectations are low and the indirect format appears like a throwback to the earliest attempts at Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking two decades ago.

Since then, Israelis and Palestinians have negotiated directly, though with interruptions, for more than 16 years.

The shuttle mission was devised to get around a deadlock over Israeli settlement construction. Abbas has said he will not negotiate directly without an Israeli settlement freeze, but Israel only agreed to a temporary slowdown in areas the Palestinians seek for their state.

Over the past five days, Mitchell has met twice with Netanyahu and three times with Abbas in final preparations for the talks. A final hurdle was cleared Saturday when the Palestine Liberation Organization and Abbas’ Fatah movement endorsed the negotiations.

On Sunday, after another Abbas-Mitchell meeting, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that “the proximity talks have started.” He said negotiations would focus on the borders of a future Palestinian state and on security arrangements…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. RE: permalink
    May 10, 2010 12:45 am

    My two kitties do the same thing…and yes..poke away. I don’t hesitate to give it right back to them. LOL

    Great pics as always Stacyx….

  2. RE: permalink
    May 10, 2010 12:46 am

    Sorry…this was meant for the Mother’s Day link. Ooops!

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