News / Middle East

US Envoy Heading Back to Middle East After Setback on Settlements

US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, not pictured, in Cairo, Egypt, Oct 3, 2010
US Mideast envoy George Mitchell leaves following his meeting about Mideast peace talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, not pictured, in Cairo, Egypt, Oct 3, 2010

Multimedia

Audio

The Obama administration will send Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell back to the region next week, despite an impasse over Israeli settlement building. The State Department said Wednesday that the U.S. goal of a framework peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians within a year is still within reach.

Officials here are acknowledging a tactical setback over the settlements issue, but insist that it will not deter the administration from its pursuit of a basic deal for a two-state settlement of the Middle East conflict by late next year.

The State Department conceded late Tuesday that efforts to persuade Israel to renew a moratorium on most West Bank settlement activity, as a means to restart direct peace talks between the parties, had failed.

The Obama administration had offered Israel a package of military aid and diplomatic incentives to renew the settlement freeze that expired in September. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, however, reportedly amenable to the idea, was unable to persuade hard-line members of his cabinet to go along.

The deal, which included a U.S. offer of 20 F-35 stealth fighter planes in exchange for a three-month freeze, is now off the table. The United States will try to narrow differences between the sides over core issues, including the borders of a Palestinian state.

In announcing the Mitchell mission next week, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the freeze issue had come to overshadow the broader agenda and that it is time to shift tactics.

"We have always supported direct negotiations as the only means to reach an agreement, and through an agreement end the conflict. That remains our view," he said. "There was considerable thought given to a [settlement] moratorium as being a mechanism by which we could make the kind of progress we are looking for. And at this point, after an intensive effort, we have concluded that that particular course is not going to bear fruit at this time. And we're going to move in a different direction."

The Palestinians had refused to extend direct peace talks with Israel, which occurred briefly in September, in the absence of another settlement freeze.

Crowley said the United States does not "accept the legitimacy" of continued Israeli settlements and will continue to express that position.

Mitchell's trip to the Middle East will be preceded by separate U.S. meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. News reports say that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will visit Washington during the next few days.

Mitchell, a former Senate leader and Northern Ireland peace envoy, is expected to visit key Arab allies, in addition to his contacts with the two parties, to brief them on the latest turn in U.S. diplomacy.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid