Obama hand in air, flag in background 311.
(photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Israeli and Palestinian teams have still not agreed on an agenda for the
round of direct talks scheduled for Sharm e-Sheikh on Tuesday,
sources said on Saturday night.
The Palestinians want to discuss
and extending the 10-month settlement construction moratorium, and
to discuss security and Palestinian recognition of Israel as the
of the Jewish people.
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There is no guarantee talks will succeed
Israel’s position is that the question of
depends very much on what security arrangements are put into place, so
security issue must precede that of boundaries.
Likewise, it was
clear during the talks in Washington earlier this month that Israel
Palestinian recognition will be an indication of whether the
indeed want to get an agreement that will put an end to the conflict and
At a press conference in Washington on Friday, US
Barack said he had told Netanyahu that since the talks were, so far,
forward, “it makes sense to extend that moratorium so long as the talks
moving in a constructive way.
“Because, ultimately, the way to
these problems is for the two sides to agree what’s going to be Israel,
going to be the state of Palestine. And if you can get that
then you can start constructing anything that the people of Israel see
Israeli officials declined to respond to
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA President
Abbas are scheduled to meet in Sharm on Tuesday, in the presence of
President Hosni Mubarak, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
The talks are taking place in Egypt as a gesture
Mubarak who, according to Israeli officials, was instrumental in getting
direct talks off the ground. The next day the talks are scheduled to
Jerusalem, again with the participation of Clinton and Mitchell.
major issue at the outset, a matter that was not resolved during last
meeting between the two sides’ top negotiators, will be what issue to
first. Palestinian demands that Israel extend the construction
to end at midnight on September 26, is expected to be met by an Israeli
for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
has said that the cabinet decision on the moratorium will expire as
has not unequivocally said in recent weeks that building will be renewed
was before the freeze went into effect.
said unequivocally that they will never recognize Israel as the national
the Jewish people.
Nabil Sha’ath, who is serving as a spokesman
Palestinian negotiating team, said in Ramallah on Wednesday that the
“Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state
such a declaration will negate the right of the Palestinian refugees to
to their home.”
Sha’ath said, “The PA is not opposed to the fact
there will be a Jewish majority in Israel,” but that the PA rejected
request to discuss the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state at the
Abbas himself, within days of returning from the relaunch
direct talks in Washington, said the Palestinians would never recognize
as the Jewish national home.
Sha’ath also repeated the PA
if Israel permitted the continuation of building in the settlements
expiration of the government’s building freeze, the Palestinians would
“If Israel goes back to settlements, we will not stay in
negotiations,” Sha’ath said.
At his Friday press conference,
on Abbas to give the Israeli public some confidence-building
Citing Netanyahu’s political difficulties in extending
freeze, Obama said he told Abbas “to show the Israeli public” that he is
“serious and constructive in these talks so that the politics for Prime
Netanyahu – if he were to extend the settlements moratorium – would be a
Obama said one of his goals was to have both Abbas
Netanyahu “start thinking about how they can help the other succeed, as
to how they figure out a way for the other to fail. Because if they’re
be successful in bringing about what they now agree is the best course
for their people, the only way they’re going to succeed is if they are
the world through the other person’s eyes. And that requires a personal
relationship and building trust. Hopefully, these meetings will help do
Obama reiterated that although the US will be actively
the process, as evidenced by Clinton and Mitchell’s participation in the
this week, “Ultimately it’s going to be up to them.
we can encourage; we can tell them that we will stand behind them in
efforts and are willing to contribute as part of the broader
community in making this work. But ultimately the parties have to make
decisions for themselves.”
The US president also said that if
break down, “we’re going to keep on trying."
An agreement, Obama said,
has the ability to “change the strategic landscape in the Middle East in
that would be very helpful. It would help us deal with an Iran that has
willing to give up its nuclear program. It would help us deal with
organizations in the region. So this is something in our interest.
not just doing this to feel good. We’re doing it because it will help
America as well.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to