Mitchell goes through the motions in the West Bank

U.S. Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell was going through the motions in the West Bank on Tuesday — venturing just a little further afield that most senior U.S. officials who generally don’t go further than Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jericho (Mitchell visited a dairy plant in Hebron) — before heading to the Muqata’a Presidential compound in Ramallah for the obligatory talks.

Akiva Eldar reported in Haaretz on Tuesday night that “During his separate talks with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Mitchell apparently shifted the focus of discussion toward core issues. He had been expected make clear to Netanyahu that the Obama administration wanted him to take a clear stance on these issues, with an emphasis on borders”.

It is more than a little surprising that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week, in an address to the Saban Forum, that the U.S. wanted Israel to indicate the borders it wanted. [Did she mean only as an opening negotiating position, or could she have meant that Israel can decide on the borders???]

Eldar’s story in Haaretz also reported that “Abbas said he was upset that Mitchell insisted that border negotiations won’t necessarily be based on 1967 lines, a term former [Israeli] prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert committed to in the past”

At the UN in New York today, the UN’s Special Coordinator Robert Serry told the UN Security Council, however, that “in New York on 10 December, Quartet envoys met with US Envoy Mitchell in advance of his trip to the region, and US Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech in Washington on the same day. The need to shift strategy is evident. We understand that the US will now engage both sides in indirect talks on all the final status issues and the Secretary-General expects the parties to engage seriously. We also note that the United States intends to be a proactive participant offering ideas and bridging proposals when appropriate. We believe it is clear that a substantive third party role in mediation is now required. The goal must be a two State solution based on an end to the 1967 occupation and a resolution of all core issues … We expect close consultation within the Quartet on the effort in the period ahead. Quartet envoys are preparing a meeting of Quartet Principals which we expect to take place soon in the new year … Yesterday, the EU Council of Ministers reiterated its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state”“.

When appropriate…

Continue reading Mitchell goes through the motions in the West Bank

Interparliamentary Union criticizes pending Israeli deportation of East Jerusalem Palestinian politicians

Members of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva issued a criticism on Thursday of the pending Israeli deportations of East Jerusalem Palestinian politicians who were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 on the Hamas-backed Change + Reform Party list.

Mohammad Abu-Tir, perhaps the most senior of four East Jerusalem Palestinian men facing “deportation”, is facing expulsion on Sunday 18 July.

An Associated Press report said that the “IPU brings together lawmakers from 155 countries. The U.S. Congress isn’t a member”. This is published here.

The IPU said that deportation would violated the human rights of Palestinian parliamentarians Mohammed Abu Tir, Mohammed Totah and Ahmed Abu Atoun, who were were recently released from prison after serving four-year sentences, for their affiliation to Hamas. A fourth East Jerusalem Palestinian parliamentarian elected in 200, Khalid Abu Arafeh, is also facing deportation.

One question now is what is the IPU going to do to follow-up?

And what will it do if one or more of the deportations are carried out?

Continue reading Interparliamentary Union criticizes pending Israeli deportation of East Jerusalem Palestinian politicians

Palestinian "bold opening offer" in proximity talks?

The Wall Street Journal has reported that “Palestinian negotiators have surprised Washington with a bold opening offer to White House peace envoy George Mitchell that includes concessions on territory beyond those offered in past Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, according to officials briefed on the current negotiations”.

Continue reading Palestinian "bold opening offer" in proximity talks?

Mitchell left the Middle East today, ending Round Two

At today’s State Department briefing in Washington, D.C., spokesperson Philip Crowley told journalists that “Special Envoy George Mitchell left the Middle East today after completing a round of proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The talks were constructive and reflected both parties’ commitments to reach an agreement that realizes the goal of two
states and a more secure and prosperous future for both peoples. Special Envoy Mitchell urged the parties to remain committed to promoting a positive atmosphere for the talks. He and his team will be continuously engaged in these talks in pursuit of comprehensive peace in the Middle East”.


Mitchell is back in town

Haaretz is reporting that “U.S. special envoy George Mitchell met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday morning, and was scheduled to hold separate talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke with Abbas on Thursday before Mitchell’s arrival in the region. State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said on Thursday that extensive talks had been held with the Israelis and the Palestinians on concrete steps that both parties could take to improve the atmosphere, and that Mitchell would be continuing those talks … He said that talks had been held with the Israelis and the Palestinians since Mitchell’s last visit, including meetings with David Hale, Mitchell’s deputy, and Middle East policy adviser Dan Shapiro, and that with the conclusion of these talks Thursday, it was thought wise for Mitchell to go to the region”. This Haaretz report is published here.

See our sister site for some media analysis.

More to follow…