George Mitchell and Mahmoud Abbas 311.
(photo credit: Madji Mohammed/AP)
US envoy George
Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on
Thursday morning, after having met a day earlier with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.Israeli officials
have said repeatedly that final-status
issues such as borders and refugees would have to be negotiated between
Abbas told Mitchell Israeli
“provocations” were threatening to foil the nascent negotiations.
hosted the American envoy in Ramallah and while welcoming the start of
the US-sponsored “proximity talks,” delivered a number of letters
containing Palestinian complaints about Israel’s actions on the ground,
chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
Erekat said that the
letters detailed Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians, including the
recent killings of a teenager in the West Bank and an elderly man in the
He said the letters also detailed arrests of
Palestinians by the IDF and “provocative” statements made by Israeli
“We hope that the Americans will obligate
the Israelis to stop the provocations, which include invasions, arrests,
settlement construction and the creation of new facts on the ground,”
Erekat said after the meeting.
US envoy Mitchell arrives in Mideast, meets Barak
'PA seeks future NATO presence'
One senior Israeli official, when
asked about the letters, said Jerusalem hoped the Palestinians were not
looking for an excuse to scuttle the talks. “We want this process to
succeed,” he said.
Erekat also said the Palestinians were keen on
ensuring the success of the talks, and that they were focusing on
final-status issues such as borders and refugees.
asking Mitchell about his talks with the Israelis, because these are
proximity talks,” he said. “We are negotiating with the Americans
according to an agreed agenda.”
Erekat also expressed hope that
the parties would “exploit every moment” during the four-month proximity
talks to reach agreement on the future borders of the Palestinian
“The more difficult issues cannot have a resolution without direct
negotiations,” one diplomatic official stressed. “If they want to have
a peace agreement, they are going to have to negotiate directly with
Abbas reportedly discussed with Mitchell the possibility of NATO troops
being stationed in a future Palestinian state, something that has been
raised in the past by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Netanyahu’s position, however, is that in the foreseeable future Israel
would have to have a presence on the eastern border of a future
Palestinian state, to ensure that weapons do not pour into it, as they
have into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and to Hizbullah in Lebanon from
Mitchell met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday afternoon, soon