News / Middle East

US Envoy Fails to Convince Palestinians to Return to Negotiations

Palestinian leaders say they will not return to negotiations unless Israel freezes construction on Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.



U.S. envoy George Mitchell has failed to convince Palestinian leaders to return to negotiations with Israel.   Talks have been stalled for more than a year and Mitchell is in the region urging both sides to take steps to get negotiations going again. 

For President Barack Obama's special envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, it was another frustrating visit. 

He met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah Friday for several hours, and left with no commitment from the Palestinians on returning to talks.  Mitchell did not speak to reporters.  News of his failure to convince them to resume negotiations came from chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Mr. Erekat said President Obama has been pushing for a final agreement, something he says the Palestinians also want.  He said Mitchell called on Palestinian officials to restart negotiations, and he said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wants a resumption of talks.  But, Erekat said, this is where the disagreement is.  He said the Palestinians want negotiations based on where talks with the previous Israeli administration left off.

Palestinian leaders say they will not return to negotiations unless Israel freezes construction on Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

Israel has called a partial, temporary freeze and says it wants negotiations without preconditions.

The Palestinians and the former administration under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held talks, and Mr. Olmert has since said both sides came close to reaching an agreement.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who took office last year, has criticized the Palestinians for adding what he says are new conditions that they had never put before. 

The Palestinians accuse Israel of hampering their plans for a future state by continuing to build on settlements that sit on lands in the West Bank that were captured by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.  Israel has never annexed the West Bank, but successive governments have encouraged hundreds of thousands of Israelis to move there.

The Palestinians also want an end to Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, which they claim as the capital of their future state.

Mr. Mitchell has made numerous trips to the region since President Obama took office a year ago, hoping to bridge differences and get both sides back to the table. 

The latest visit came as pessimism grows over the future of the peace process.  Mitchell's meeting with Palestinian officials on Friday happened a day after Time magazine published an interview that quoted President Obama as saying his administration overestimated its ability to persuade Israel and the Palestinians to engage in a meaningful conversation.

He told the magazine that if his administration had anticipated some of the political problems, it might not have raised expectations as high as it did.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs