'Proximity talks are going nowhere'

Egypt's FM: Israel-PA indirect negotiations could last 10 years.

aboul gheit egypt FM 311 ap (photo credit: AP)
aboul gheit egypt FM 311 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Indirect peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going nowhere, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview published Saturday in London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Aboul Gheit criticized the methods of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, and said proximity talks could last another ten years before yielding results.
“All the indications are that we are going about this the wrong way and so are likely to reach a crisis,” the minister said. Mitchell has shuttled for weeks between the two sides in search of common ground.
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The comments contrasted those made on Friday by White House officials, who said talks had made progress and expressed hope that direct negotiations could be resumed in the near future.
"The gaps have narrowed," Daniel Shapiro, senior Middle East director at the US National Security Council, told reporters on Friday. "And we believe there are opportunities to further narrow those gaps, to allow the sides to take that next step to the direct talks. And so we're encouraged."
US President Barack Obama will try to accelerate the prospects of face-to-face peace talks when he meets Tuesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, White House officials said.  They billed that effort as the primary thrust of the meeting, one that also will cover efforts to halt Iran's apparent pursuit of nuclear weaponry, conflict in the Gaza Strip and other regional security challenges. The session will be the fifth between the two leaders.
Netanyahu has called for direct talks with Palestinians to begin again. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli reporters this week that the borders of a future Palestinian state and security relations with Israel are the two issues on the table, and that if an agreement on them is reached, direct talks can resume.