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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid