Ma'an News Agency
January 14, 2011 - 1:00am

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell met separately on Thursday with Israeli and Palestinian envoys as part of Washington's bid to revive peace negotiations, the State Department said.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Mitchell met first with Palestinian envoy Saeb Erakat and then with Israel's Yitzhak Molcho.

Direct talks began on September 2, but stalled three weeks later with the end of an Israeli moratorium on settlement building. The Palestinians refuse to talk while Israel continues building.

Washington admitted last month it had failed to secure Israel's agreement to a new freeze on settlement building.

Crowley on Thursday reiterated US opposition to a Palestinian proposal for a UN resolution condemning Israel's settlement building.

Washington believes that the United Nations "is the wrong forum to address these complex issues," and that Israelis and Palestinians should "find a way back to direct negotiations as the only way" to resolve their differences.

The Palestinians view the presence of some 500,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem as a major threat to the establishment of their promised state, and saw US demands for a building freeze as a crucial test of Israel's intentions.

The international Quartet of Middle East mediators will hold a high-level meeting in Munich on February 5 to try to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the European Union said Thursday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are scheduled to participate in the meeting, EU officials said.


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