Palestinian leader: Talks with Israel over
Posted By AP On January 25, 2012
RAMALLAH: Exploratory peace talks with Israel have ended with nothing to show for them, the Palestinian president said Wednesday, pledging to consult with the Arab League about the next moves and leaving open the possibility of an extension.
After a total break of more than a year, international mediators persuaded the sides to send their negotiators to Jordan to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks. Reflecting the depth of their differences, they could not even agree on when to submit proposals.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would discuss the prospects with the Arab League next week, Israel wants to keep talking, and Abbas is under mounting international pressure not to walk away.
Visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to meet separately over the next two days with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Two officials involved in the contacts said she is trying to put together a package of Israeli incentives that would keep the Palestinians in the talks.
In the Jordanian-mediated exploratory talks, Israeli and Palestinian envoys met several times over the past month, including on Wednesday.
The Quartet of international mediators _ the US, the UN, the EU and Russia _ said last fall that it expected both sides to submit detailed proposals on borders and security arrangements, in hopes the dialogue would evolve into full-fledged peace talks.
Palestinian officials said they submitted their proposals, but that Israel did not. ”If we demarcate the borders, we can return to negotiations, but Israel does not want to do that,” Abbas said Wednesday, after talks in Jordan with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Israel says it has submitted a document outlining the areas that need to be discussed, but it was not characterized as a proposal.
Abbas said he would consult with the Arab League, which usually rubber stamps his decisions, on Feb. 4. This would allow for an additional nine days of diplomatic maneuvers to save the talks.
A walkout could cost the Palestinians international sympathy at a time when they seek global support for UN membership for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.