Emad Drimly
July 6, 2010 - 12:00am

On the eve of the scheduled meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday, the Middle East peace process and lifting Gaza Strip blockade are the two major issues of deep concerns for the Palestinians.

They are seeking an active U.S. intervention in both tracks, while officials and observers see that the White House is standing before a real examination at this moment to achieve a serious progress in the political process and respond to the Palestinian demands.

Before heading to Washington, Netanyahu stated that pushing forward the proposal of moving from proximity talks to the face-to- face talks "will be a major issue to be raised in the talks with President Obama," adding that there are no alternatives for the direct negotiations.

Since May 9, the United States has been sponsoring the four- month proximity talks between the Palestinians and Israel; however, the Palestinians say "there has been no progress yet."


Ahmed Majdalani, member of Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee, explained that the United States has two major issues that should be immediately decided, "The first is to speed up the positive proximity talks without waiting to make a progress."

"The second issue is related to the American guarantees that were presented to the Palestinian leadership to prevent the provocative Israeli actions, mainly constructing settlements, demolishing houses and extraditing the Palestinians after confiscating their IDs," Majdalani told Xinhua.

He stressed that "these two central issues need a serious and firm American stance to guarantee the continuation of the peace process, achieving success and reaching its goals." However, he warned that if there will be no decisive U.S. stance, the sphere of the peace process will be "closed down."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks with President Obama at the White House last month. Obama was scheduled to meet with Netanyahu a week before Abbas-Obama meeting; however, Netanyahu postponed his visit following the crisis of the Gaza Ship Freedom Flotilla bound to Gaza on May 31.

Obama who met with Netanyahu on Tuesday, wanted to prove that there are no disputes with Israel. He also sought to persuade Israel and the Palestinians to move to direct talks, which completely stopped in December 2008. Obama sought to make an achievement.


Nabil Shaath, member of Abbas' Fatah party's central committee, stated that the Palestinian expectations to have a breakthrough out of the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu "are weak and limited, if we compare it with the current Israeli government political stances."

"This Israeli government is the most radical government in the Israeli history and it will never ever allow any progress in the peace process, unless the United States practices an extraordinary pressure to commit it to the obligations of the peace process," said Shaath.

Shaath criticized the current U.S. stances towards the Israeli government. He said that the Palestinians haven't seen so far any real U.S. pressure on the Israeli government, where he demanded Washington "to understand that without the pressure, there will be no progress."

President Abbas had earlier stated that he "would be willing to positively respond to the U.S. demand to move to the direct talks only if a progress is achieved in the proximity talks, mainly in the issues of borders and security," and the Palestinians would also coordinate with the Arabs over the talk results.


Meanwhile, Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Gaza Hamas leader, told Xinhua that the international community should pay attention "to the Zionist crime of imposing an unfair siege on the Gaza Strip and completely lift it," adding that he doesn't expect "any practical results out of the U.S. policy."

"What we expect is that the U.S. will try to find an exit out of its crisis concerning sponsoring the peace process and the situation in the entire region, and Netanyahu is just giving the U. S. untrue promises and some tricks of speeches while he keeps humiliating the Palestinians," said al-Bardaweel.

Talal Oukal, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that the Palestinians lost their trust in the United States, adding " the Palestinians believe that the U.S. has never been fair with them, mainly in the issue of exerting real and active pressure on Israel to end the occupation and settlements."

"The U.S. administration has a great harmony with the Israeli manner, which depends on postponing the commitments to the peace process basics. The U.S. has never asked Israel to lift the siege, but called on Israel to relax it, and the Palestinian sufferings will go on," said Oukal.


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