October 8, 2009 12:51:48 pm
A senior American diplomat has asked Israel and Palestine to move ahead with the stalled peace process saying that President Barack Obama is growing “impatient” over the deadlock.
“The President is impatient with the current situation and expects the sides to move forward. He has said to stop talking about talking,” the diplomat told reporters here.
Obama has asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy to the Middle East,George Mitchell to report to him by mid-October on progress in the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Mitchell arrived in Israel yesterday ahead of a round of talks aimed at restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The US diplomat said the visit was not likely to conclude with an announcement of a renewal of talks,and that further meetings would be necessary.
“We do not foresee a breakthrough in this visit,but we have a sense of urgency and we are determined to make progress,” the official said.
The main American message for both the sides is that the reopening of negotiations on all core issues would greatly reduce tensions and prevent incidents such as the recent Temple Mount disturbances,he said.
“The events on the Temple Mount and the discussions on the Goldstone report have demonstrated how urgent it is to go back to negotiations and resolve the core issues of the conflict,” Israeli media quoted the official as saying.
Most of Mitchell’s meetings will concentrate on attempts to bridge the gaps between Israel and the PA on conditions for the negotiations,including the timetable. The sides are still divided on all issues.
The US official brushed aside rumours that Washington has given up on its demand to freeze settlement activities saying Mitchell would continue discussing the administration’s demand for a “moratorium” on construction.
“It’s not off the table. Our position on settlements has not changed,” he said.
Mitchell is scheduled to meet Israel President Shimon Peres,Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today.
Tomorrow he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,and over the weekend travel to the West Bank town of Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian sources said that Abbas,whose standing among Palestinians has suffered dramatically in recent weeks,is expected to refuse the American request for an immediate return to negotiations without preconditions.
Abbas has been harshly criticised by Palestinians and Arabs for requesting postponement of the UN discussion on the Goldstone report at the request of the United States.