PA questions US on Mitchell's offer

Abbas discusses new US plan with Mubarak in Cairo.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: AP)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas
(photo credit: AP)
CAIRO — The Palestinians have asked the Obama administration to clarify a US Mideast envoy George Mitchell's proposal to restart long-stalled peace talks with Israel indirectly by shuttling between the two sides, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday.
On Saturday, Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss the new US plan.
"We have asked the American side some questions ... and the answers will be discussed within a joint Arab framework and then we will announce our position," Abbas said.
The PA president said in a meeting with reporters Friday night that he is optimistic the United States can push the sides back to talks. First, though, he wants clear guidelines on the offer by Mitchell to conduct shuttle diplomacy.
Peace talks that began in November 2007 under former US president George W. Bush broke off in December 2008 during Israel's Operation Cast Lead against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
"I'm optimistic that the American administration is capable of doing something to bring about a breakthrough in the peace process," Abbas said Friday.
He made it clear, however, that the Palestinians were not willing to offer more compromises to get the process moving again.
The Palestinians insist first on a full freeze of settlement building in the West Bank. They rejected a 10-month freeze imposed in late November as insufficient because it does not include east Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a conference Wednesday that he had reason to believe the talks could resume in a matter of weeks, though he gave no details.