Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz said Thursday morning that he believed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would be renewed soon without preconditions.
Speaking to Israel Radio from Washington, Mofaz said that "I believe that there is an opportunity to restart negotiations. I have a firm basis for believing this will happen in the near future."
Mofaz's comments came amid renewed statements of pessimism over peace negotiations from Palestinian Authority leadership. On Sunday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared the peace process "clinically dead," blaming the state of affairs squarely on Israel. “The ball is in the Israeli court,” Abbas said in a speech at a conference on Jerusalem that was held in Ramallah.
While Mofaz is in Washington for high level talks, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also visited the US for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ways of reviving the stalled peace talks with Israel. A PA official told The Jerusalem Post that Erekat was planning on reiterating the Palestinian conditions for resuming peace talks: a cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
In his interview with Israel Radio, Mofaz said that the Palestinians preconditions have become an obstacle, and that the upcoming negotiations must and will be restarted "without any preconditions."
"Over the past three years the Palestinians have been placing preconditions on restarting the negotiations, and Israel and the US were mistaken in allowing them to do so," Mofaz said.
The center of discussion during Mofaz's US trip thus far has been the Iranian threat. Mofaz consulted Wednesday with members of Congress on how to move forward with stiffer sanctions against Iran in the wake of another inconclusive meeting between world powers and Tehran.
He also discussed the topic of Iran with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after which he released a statement calling for the the West to impose harsher sanctions on Iran.