Ma'an News Agency
September 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Two key Israeli officials are headed to Washington on Wednesday for continued talks leading up to renewed peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's chief of staff, Michael Herzog will attend the talks with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and senior White House officials, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands with Netanyahu during a summit with US President Barack Obama at the United Nations last week. According to Haaretz, the meeting signaled that Abbas has significantly weakened his negotiating stance. The newspaper states that under massive US pressure, Abbas has dropped the demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks.

Chief Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiator Saeb Erekat will also be in Washington, though it is not clear whether he will participate in the talks.

Next week Mitchell will return to Israel and meet with Netanyahu and Barak.

According to Haaretz, Obama instructed Mitchell and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to report to him on progress in the talks by 15 October, in hopes that a framework for renewed negotiations will be reached by then.

In exchange for easing his demand on settlements, the Israeli daily reports, Obama has promised Abbas that the Palestinian viewpoint will be taken into consideration in forming the “framework” for the negotiations.

The Palestinian negotiating team wants to resume negotiation from the point reached in talks with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu argues he is not bound by Olmert’s proposals.

According to Haaretz, the Palestinians also want the negotiations to focus on the principle of a solution based on the 1967 borders, while Netanyahu strongly disagrees.

Finally, PA negotiators are reportedly demanding a two-year deadline for the achievement of a permanent agreement, while Israel objects.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017