2010 Brings New Push in Mideast Diplomacy

Middle East diplomacy is moving into high gear this month in a fresh effort to revive stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Cairo this week and proposed that Egypt host a three-way summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to help get the peace process back on track.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says his government has sought to resume negotiations since it took power nine months ago.

"We have called from day one, when this government was installed, we're calling on the Palestinians to sit with us, continue the negotiations and the dialogue without preconditions," he said.

The Palestinians have set a tough precondition: They will not return to peace talks until Israel imposes a complete freeze on construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And they have rejected Israel's offer of a partial freeze.

"Resuming peace negotiations alongside and in parallel to the continuity of the Israeli settlement expansion, practices and policies, would doom the peace negotiations to failure," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ghassan Khattib.

Still, efforts to break the impasse are gaining momentum. President Abbas will visit Egypt next week to discuss a formula for resuming negotiations. And the United States, which is sponsoring the peace process, will send Middle East envoy George Mitchell back to the region later this month.

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