Abbas Punts on the Mideast Peace Process, Again

(Washington Post) Jackson Diehl - Israeli officials contend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a serious run at negotiating terms for statehood with the Palestinians last month - only to run into the same brick wall encountered by his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, in 2008. Once again, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to engage on a serious proposal. By the Israeli account, both sides presented substantive proposals at the meetings. Netanyahu's negotiator Isaac Molho presented a 21-point document at the first meeting on Jan. 3 on issues Israel wished to discuss, ranging from security and borders to alleged incitement of violence in the Palestinian media. At the last meeting on Jan. 25, Molho set out Netanyahu's proposal on borders for a Palestinian state. It called for annexation of the large blocs of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. While the talks went on, Israeli officials held separate discussions with Quartet broker Tony Blair about confidence-building concessions to Abbas, including a prisoner release, the expansion of Palestinian police authority in the West Bank and economic projects. But Abbas chose not to engage. There were no more meetings. Soon afterward Abbas met with Khaled Meshal, the leader of the Hamas movement, to renew a contrary initiative - a Palestinian unity government. Not for the first time, the Palestinian leader punted.

2012-02-24 00:00:00

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