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Keith Millea
08-21-2010, 06:12 PM
Published on Friday, August 20, 2010 by Agence France-Presse (http://www.afp.com/)
Israel, Palestinians to Resume Direct Talks: Report


WASHINGTON US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce Friday that Israel and the Palestinians will resume direct peace talks for the first time in 20 months, the New York Times reported.

http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/Abbas-and-Netanyahu-006_0.jpgMahmoud Abbas, left, has has been persuaded to engage in direct talks despite fears that Binyamin Netanyahu is not serious about a push for peace. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images
The Times, citing two unnamed officials briefed on the situation, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, have agreed to place a one-year time limit on the talks.
US President Barack Obama is expected to invite Netanyahu and Abbas to Washington in early September to start the negotiations, which will address "final status" issues, including the status of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the Times said late Thursday.
A return to direct negotiations would be the first significant achievement for the Obama administration's effort to facilitate Middle East peace talks.
Face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold for nearly two years, despite US pressure on both sides.
The last round of direct talks collapsed when Israel launched a devastating three-week offensive in Gaza in December 2008 in a bid to halt rocket fire from the enclave ruled by the militant Hamas movement.
The US State Department sounded an optimistic note on direct talks early Thursday.

"We think we are very, very close to a decision by the parties to enter into direct negotiations. There are details that are still being worked out," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
Crowley said Clinton had consulted with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who represents the diplomatic Quartet.

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2010 Agence France-Presse
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/20-3

Published on Saturday, August 21, 2010 by Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67K1ER20100821) Dejected Palestinians See No Hope in Peace Talks

Hopes Eroded by Israeli Policies, US Failure to Force Israeli Concessions

by Tom Perry


RAMALLAH, West Bank - A resumption of Middle East peace talks inspires little hope among Palestinians who say the prospect of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel seems no more than a dream.


http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/palestinian-woman-cries.jpgA Palestinian woman cries after being denied entry to Jerusalem to go pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010. (AP/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
"There has been a lot of talk of peace, but we have seen no results. We no longer have hope," said 30-year old Luay Kabbah, who was still at school when Palestinian and Israeli leaders first began talking peace nearly two decades ago.
His despondency reflects deep pessimism among Palestinians, mirrored in Israel, on the prospects for a new round of U.S.-mediated peace talks that are due to begin in September.

The talks are the latest chapter in a peace process which, interrupted by several years of violence earlier this decade, has given Palestinians limited self-rule but no state on lands occupied by Israel since a 1967 Middle East war.

Today, the idea of that state emerging in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem -- the leadership's stated goal -- seems almost far-fetched to many Palestinians.

They say their hopes have been eroded by Israeli policies, the United States' failure to force Israel into concessions and the failings of their own leaders, who have grown ever weaker and more divided since Yasser Arafat's death in 2004.

Rival Palestinian governments have emerged in Gaza and the West Bank, creating a divide that has complicated what was already one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

For now, avoiding a deterioration in the status quo is the best to be hoped for, said Ahmad Aweidah, head of the Palestinian stock exchange, set up when hopes of peace were high in the 1990s.
"Peace process? What peace process? That's so nineties. After 18 years, don't they feel silly?" he said.

"There are only two scenarios. The optimistic one is more of the same. The pessimistic one is it's going to get worse."

The United States had made reviving Israeli-Palestinian negotiations one of its priorities. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on Friday, said there had been difficulties in the past and there would be difficulties ahead.

Clinton said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas will meet President Barack Obama on September 1, with direct negotiations resuming the following day. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah have also accepted invitations to attend the launch.

"FAILURE FROM THE OUTSET"

The borders of the Palestinian state, the fate of Jewish settlements built on occupied land and the future of Jerusalem are among the tough issues that the negotiators will face and which past talks have failed to resolve.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his credibility damaged by the failure of past talks, had sought a clear agenda for the talks as well as a complete halt to Jewish settlement building before agreeing to more negotiations.

His Palestinian critics said he had secured neither from the United States, which echoed Israel's call for negotiations to start without preconditions.
Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, has said he has faced unprecedented international pressure to negotiate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"It's a failure from the outset," said Saliba Totah, 64, reading the news with friends on a Ramallah street. "Negotiations in this way cannot lead to a state," he said.

"We have no hope. Netanyahu will not give a thing, not in a year, not in years," said Jamal Khamis, a metal foundry worker in Gaza. "Abu Mazen was forced to agree and therefore the talks will never succeed," added the 42-year old.

Zakaria al Qaq, a political commentator, said: "What he has opted for is the option of a crippled, helpless politician."

Abbas's negotiation strategy has long been condemned by the Hamas Islamist group which seized control of the Gaza Strip from him in 2007 and is deeply hostile to Israel. This time, a resumption of peace talks has faced opposition from other sections of Palestinian society.

"We are the audience in a theater," said Samir Hulileh, chief executive officer of Palestine Development and Investment Ltd (PADICO), a holding company set up at the start of the peace process with the aim of building a Palestinian economy.

"We have memorized the play so many times, it is repeated in different forms, and sometimes with different faces, but it's the same," he said. "We know the final outcome," he said. "We don't feel hope coming out of it."

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Angus MacSwan.

2010 Reuters
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/21-2

Peter Dawson
08-22-2010, 08:58 AM
Please forgive my ignorance, but is Abbas a democratically elected representative of the Palestinians, or did he just used to be a democratically elected representative of the Palestinians, and is now simply a person the Israelis are prepared to negotiate with, given that they're not prepared to negotiate with the current democratically elected representatives of the Palestinians?

Jan Klimkowski
08-22-2010, 04:10 PM
Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, is nominally President of the Palestinian Authority. However, his Presidential term ran out in January 2010 and, as I understand it, the PLO unilaterally extended his term of office without any elections.

It is therefore arguable that Abbas is an illegitimate President of a runt Palestinian authortiy.

Whatever - Abbas is most certainly a quisling.

A stooge who does not serve the interests of the vast mass of the Palestinian people.

Abbas is useful to the Americans and the Israelis when they need a puppet Palestinian "leader" to appear in Chapter 97 of the Great Israel-Palestine Peace Talk Farce - a charade played out for MSM consumption with earnest words, furrowed brows, and zero chance of achieving a fair and viable peace.

Peter Presland
08-22-2010, 04:56 PM
Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, is nominally President of the Palestinian Authority. However, his Presidential term ran out in January 2010 and, as I understand it, the PLO unilaterally extended his term of office without any elections.

It is therefore arguable that Abbas is an illegitimate President of a runt Palestinian authortiy.

Whatever - Abbas is most certainly a quisling.

A stooge who does not serve the interests of the vast mass of the Palestinian people.

Abbas is useful to the Americans and the Israelis when they need a puppet Palestinian "leader" to appear in Chapter 97 of the Great Israel-Palestine Peace Talk Farce - a charade played out for MSM consumption with earnest words, furrowed brows, and zero chance of achieving a fair and viable peace.
As a matter of fact his term of office expired on 9th January 2009 - right in the middle of operation Cast Lead, so he has now complete over 18 months of illegitimately 'representing the Palestinians'.

He heads the PLO which received just 30% of the popular vote in the 2006 elections. Hamas got 70%. The reaction of the Zionists was to Blockade Gaza; the PLO attempted a CIA sponsored coup and succeeded (with IDF help) in holding onto power in the West Bank but got their butts whipped in Gaza.

That is now popularly known in the West as 'Hamas seizing power with armed force' + variants of the same. Hamas resisted the blockade - then Wham! Operation Cats Lead and 1,500 Palestinians dead - mostly women and children, to Israel's 13 - 10 of them from 'Friendly fire'.

Like Jan says. Abbas is a Quisling and a hugely unpopular one with his own people, but right now he's all the US and Zionist Israel have got.

His illegitimacy needs shouting from the rooftops.

HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR THE PALESTINIANS and the prospect of him negotiating on their behalf is farcical

Jan Klimkowski
08-22-2010, 05:05 PM
Peter - I agree with your post. Thanks for correcting the year. :top:

So, Abbas' Presidency has now been illegitimate for 19 months.

Whereas the Hamas government on the West Bank is democratically elected.

What did Tony Blair say about "spreading democracy".... :bootyshake:

Peter Dawson
08-23-2010, 09:13 AM
Thanks for that, Jan and Pete. I could vaguely recall that Abbas was no longer legit, but the more time passes, with the US and Israel treating him as if he's The Man, the more I was wondering whether I was recalling things correctly.

How do you fight this sort of thing, when reporters don't ever bother to mention the true situation?