"...An Offer TO consider, ... at least for now ... not clear what constitutes..." Am I the only one thinking that this is something that looks like a Brooklyn bridge sale?"... The US has given private assurances to encourage the Palestinians to join indirect Middle East peace talks, including an offer to consider allowing UN security council condemnation of any significant new Israeli settlement activity, the Guardian has learned.The assurances were given verbally in a meeting a week ago between a senior US diplomat and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Since then – and after months of US diplomacy – it appears Israeli and Palestinian leaders are close to starting indirect "proximity" talks, which would be the first resumption of the Middle East peace process since Israel's war in Gaza began in late 2008.There was no official confirmation of the details of the meeting and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, denied assurances were given. "It's not true," he said. "We are still talking to the Americans."But a Palestinian source, who was given a detailed account of the meeting, said David Hale, the deputy of the US special envoy, George Mitchell, told Abbas that Barack Obama wanted to see the peace process move forward with the starting of indirect talks. The diplomat said Washington understood there were obstacles and described Israeli settlement construction as "provocative".He told Abbas the Americans had received assurances from the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that one particular settlement project in East Jerusalem, at Ramat Shlomo, would not go ahead, at least for now. ...Hale then told Abbas that if there was significantly provocative settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, Washington may consider allowing the UN security council to censure Israel. It was understood that meant the US would abstain from voting on a resolution rather than use its veto. Any US decision not to veto a resolution critical of Israel would be very unusual and a rare sign of American anger towards its long-time ally. However, it was not clear what may constitute significantly provocative activity. Palestinian officials asked in the meeting, but were not given an explicit definition, the source said...."
Friday, April 30, 2010
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:48 AM