maandag 21 september 2009

Obama, Netanjahoe en Abbas ontmoeten elkaar op VN-bijeenkomst

Er komt dus toch een ontmoeting, want als de Amerikanen iets echt willen, dan leg je dat niet zomaar naast je neer. Maar daarmee is wel alles gezegd. Het wordt niet de opening voor nieuwe vredesonderhandelingen, en men is niet dichterbij elkaar gekomen.
Last update - 00:50 21/09/2009       
Israel, U.S.: Summit won't result in renewal of talks
By Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondents
U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
However, the serious differences over the issue of continued building in the settlements and the framework of the peace process remain, and sources at the Prime Minister's Bureau as well as the Obama administration stress that it is unlikely that the meeting will result in a resumption of negotiations.
A senior source at the Prime Minister's Bureau said Sunday that the Palestinians were the ones who "folded" after they refused a meeting with Netanyahu. "They made militant statements but in the end they will come," the source said.
However, sources at the PM's bureau acknowledged that the meeting is expected to only be a photo opportunity, and will not lead to a resumption of the peace process. "The meeting will not inaugurate [renewed] negotiations and will not involve any significant details," the sources said. "The differences on the issue of the settlements and the framework of the talks remain deep."
Senior officials at the U.S. administration offered similar comments, and stressed that there has been no major breakthrough and that the differences between the sides have remained unchanged since U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, departed the area on Friday afternoon. U.S. officials said that they expected no declaration of the negotiations' resumption at the end of the meeting, and the talks on this issue would continue in the coming weeks. The aim is to resume the negotiations by the first half of October.
The tripartite meeting will take place Tuesday at 11 A.M. at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Prior to the joint meeting between the three leaders, President Obama is scheduled to meet with Abbas and Netanyahu separately. The U.S. president will make a last-ditch effort to pressure the two toward a compromise agreement that may lead to an announcement of the resumption of peace talks.
A source in the Prime Minister's Bureau said that it has been agreed with the U.S. administration that the meeting will not include any negotiations, and the leaders will review developments in the situation. Moreover, the Israeli sources said that it was also agreed that there would be no preconditions to the meeting, which the source insisted is an Israeli "victory."
Netanyahu leaves for New York Monday, accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who will meet with counterparts at the United Nations, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak left for Washington last night, where he will meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser, General James Jones.
At the UN, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The prime minister will address the General Assembly on Thursday afternoon, and in his speech he will focus on the need for international action in order to stop Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu has described his address as "dramatic."
Unfolding the drama
Friday 9 A.M. - Jerusalem: Mitchell meets Netanyahu
The American announcement that a tripartite meeting would indeed take place at the UN followed a week of U.S. Special Envoy Mitchell's talks in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which came to an end Friday afternoon. The verdict: an abject failure.
On Friday morning Mitchell arrived at the Prime Minister's Bureau in Jerusalem for a third meeting, following two earlier ones on Tuesday and Wednesday that proved fruitless. Mitchell asked Netanyahu to make further concessions on the time scale of the freeze on settlement construction. So far Netanyahu had agreed to a six-month break, while Mitchell wanted a year's hiatus, in order to convince the Palestinians and the Arab world that this constituted a substantive effort on the part of Israel. Following American pressure, Netanyahu agreed to "budge" and put in a new proposal for a nine-month freeze.
However, there has been no progress on a much more important issue. The Americans wanted the tripartite meeting at the UN to become an event at which the resumption of the peace talks was announced, with the U.S. president making a speech in which he could present the framework in which the talks would be held. However, the difference between the three sides remain significant, and there was no agreement on the content of the speech.
Netanyahu opposed the American proposal for a timetable of two years for completing the talks, while the Palestinians were in favor. Abbas demanded that the 1967 borders would be mentioned in the speech, but Netanyahu vetoed that possibility. The prime minister demanded that Obama note that Israel was a "Jewish state," which is something the Palestinians find unacceptable.
Friday, 11:30 A.M. - Ramallah: Mitchell meets with Abbas
The U.S. envoy arrived at the Muqata'a in Ramallah and presented Abbas with Netanyahu's positions and his willingness to show further flexibility on the settlements issue. The Palestinian leader was adamant: "I demand a complete freeze including East Jerusalem and natural growth."
Abbas also noted that he must consult with Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak before making a final decision on participating in the tripartite meeting.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu paid a visit to the spiritual leader of Shas, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in order to greet him for the New Year and update him on his talks with Mitchell. Ovadia blessed Netanyahu and told him "to remain steadfast before American pressure."
Friday, 6 P.M. - Prime Minister's Bureau: "The Palestinians are to blame."
Once the talks entered a dead end, a senior official at the PM's bureau briefed reporters, and blamed the Palestinian Authority for the failure. "There has been no progress in the talks and no time has been set for a tripartite meeting," the senior official said.
"The differences are because of the Palestinians," he added.
However, the official also said that an El Al aircraft is on standby for departure to New York on Monday, "if the situation changes and we are invited to a summit ¬ we will be there."
Saturday, 3 P.M. - Cairo: Abbas blames Israel.
In a rapid effort at consultation with his allies, Abbas traveled to Egypt for a meeting with Mubarak. At the end of the consultations, Abbas blamed Israel for the failure. "The way is blocked," he said. "We did what we had to, and now it is necessary to focus on Israel's obligations if we want to resolve the crisis."
The blame game continued. A little more than two hours later, the foreign ministry in Jerusalem issued a response: "The Palestinian Authority is the one that posed preconditions and is preventing a meeting."
Saturday, 10 P.M. - Mitchell calls Abbas.
Following the talks' failure, Mitchell held discussions by telephone with senior administration officials. At this stage the Americans were mostly irked with the Palestinians, and Abbas' refusal to meet at the UN. The Americans continued to press Abbas, especially through other Arab leaders.
At the end a decision fell in Washington ¬ this would not be the inauguration of a new round of peace talks, but a tripartite meeting would be held so that the boycott Abbas imposed on Netanyahu would break. Mitchell called Abbas and invited him to New York, and in parallel an invitation went out to Netanyahu.
Senior U.S. officials assumed that once an official invitation went out from President Obama, neither side would dare turn it down, which is what happened. The White House issued an official announcement early Sunday morning that the meeting would take place.
Mitchell said that this was an example of the sort of personal commitment that President Obama had in the peace process. At 2 A.M., Sunday, the PM's bureau sent a message to the press: "The PM has accepted the invitation of President Obama and will depart Monday for New York."

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