<I>Al-Hayat</i>: Mitchell says Israel-Palestinian talks to last 1.5 years

George Mitchell, the United State's envoy to the Middle East, has indicated that negotiations for a final settlement deal between Israel and the Palestinians will continue for no more than one and a half years, the London-based newspaper al-Hayat reported on Tuesday. According to the report, which cited "reliable" sources, the American administration is currently working for an agreement on the borders of a future Palestinian state. Once that agreement is reached, efforts would be made to find a compromise on settlement construction, said the paper. The sources also told the paper that Mitchell and his staff were fully invested in trying to secure from Israel a commitment that they will cease their building in the West Bank, this to facilitate the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. A member of senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereket's staff reiterated to the paper the Palestinian position that talks would not continue until the settlements stop growing. "We don't have a Palestinian position for the renewal of negotiations," he was quoted by the paper as saying. "Rather, Israel has a commitment under the framework of the road map."