Diplomats Describe Outline for Restarting Negotiations

[Ha'aretz] Shlomo Shamir, Barak Ravid and Akiva Eldar - European and Israeli diplomats told Ha'aretz that U.S. envoy George Mitchell and other top Washington officials said, "Obama has no new peace plan," and that the diplomatic outline is different from the Annapolis process and is based on several guiding principles. First is that talks will advance according to the Middle East road map. Second, the target for completing negotiations will be two years from now. Third, the U.S. will take a more active role in the talks and will "take a seat at the negotiating table." U.S. officials said that in the coming weeks Washington could declare an agreement for "confidence-building measures" drafted by Israel and the Palestinians to allow talks to progress. "We didn't reach 100% of what we wanted in Israel and the Arab states, but we got enough to allow for the renewal of talks," a U.S. official said. The agreement would call for Israel to temporarily or partially freeze settlement building. American officials said they had achieved a series of normalization steps by Arab states toward Israel, though Saudi Arabia had declined to commit to any goodwill gestures toward Israel. One European diplomat said Qatar would reopen the Israeli diplomatic mission in Doha, and several other states will allow direct flights from Israel through their airspace and to their airports. Several Persian Gulf states also agreed to grant tourist visas to Israeli tourists and businesspeople.

2009-09-02 08:00:00

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