News / Middle East

Mitchell Heads Back to Middle East to Deal With Settlements 'Dilemma'

A Palestinian youth leads a donkey next to signs leading to Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank, 27 Sep 2010
A Palestinian youth leads a donkey next to signs leading to Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank, 27 Sep 2010

U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell is traveling to the region for urgent talks on what the State Department calls the "dilemma" posed by the expiration of Israel's moratorium on settlement building.  U.S. officials have welcomed Palestinian restraint in not formally breaking off peace talks.

Mitchell will be visiting the Mideast in an effort aimed at salvaging U.S.-brokered direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Despite appeals from President Obama, among others, the freeze on most West Bank settlement activity declared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ten months ago expired late Sunday.

The Israeli leader faced a rebellion within his right-leaning coalition government if he extended the moratorium, while Palestinians had threatened to quit the talks if was not continued.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas created an opening for U.S. emergency diplomacy when he said in Paris that a decision on the negotiations would await consultations with the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Arab League.

In a talk with reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Palestinian restraint is appreciated.

Crowley said Mitchell and key aides were flying to the region late Monday for contacts aimed at salvaging the talks, which the spokesman said are widely acknowledged to have made progress since opening in Washington September 2.

"The process is important.  It's vital.  As the parties themselves know, absent these direct negotiations, Israel does not get the security that it needs and deserves, and the Palestinians do not get that state that they want and deserve.  So one way or another, the parties have to find a way to continue direct negotiations," said Crowley.

President Obama, delivering the U.S. policy speech to the General Assembly last week, had urged an extension of the settlement moratorium as well as "tangible steps" by Arab states toward normalization of ties with Israel.

On the sidelines of General Assembly debate Monday, a procession of diplomats urged Israel to extend the freeze, among them British Foreign Secretary William Hague.  "The United Kingdom believes that it is very important for the moratorium on settlements to be continued, to be extended.  This affects the credibility of the negotiations, the viability of the direct talks.  So we do look to Israel to extend that settlement freeze," said Hague.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose government has invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders for peace talks in Paris, told reporters it is too soon to pronounce the regional peace process to be in crisis.

"There was no breakdown yesterday," said Kouchner.  "No break.  No big incident, and they are following the process of peace, waiting for the meeting of the Arab League next Saturday.  I think President Abbas was wise enough to tell us yesterday that it is not the end of the peace talks, the direct talks, and Prime Minister Netanyahu was wise enough to advise the settlers not to move too much."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued consultations on the Middle East on Monday in New York.  Her list of bilateral meetings included one with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, the first U.S.-Syrian meeting at that level since 2007.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid