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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs