Abbas Inches Toward Talks with Israel

(Ha'aretz) Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff - Senior Palestinian sources confirmed Sunday that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has agreed in principle to a U.S. proposal for indirect talks with Israel conducted by U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell. Senior Israeli officials noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the talks will begin in late February and will result in the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the PA. The format will be similar to the indirect talks Israel held with Syria in Turkey, with Mitchell relaying messages to the negotiating teams sitting in separate rooms, and marks the first time in 16 years that Israel-PA talks will not be direct. Senior sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau noted that Netanyahu had stressed to the U.S. administration that the indirect talks be limited in time, not exceeding two to three weeks. "I want to reach direct talks with the Palestinians," Netanyahu said last week. "I have no problem with proximity talks or indirect negotiations. I look at this as a ladder that will enable the Palestinians to climb down from the tree, and as a corridor that will lead to high-level talks."

2010-02-08 07:59:25

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