American special Mideast envoy George Mitchell is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday evening to compel Israel and the PA (Palestinian Authority) to return to the negotiating table. While he later denied the accuracy of the interpretation of his statements, Mitchell during a recent PBS TV interview in the United States warned Israel and failure to jumpstart the so-called peace process might jeopardize lucrative American loan guarantees for Israel. He also stated that if progress is not evident, the White House may take a back seat to regional peace-making efforts.
Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday followed by a meeting later in the week with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
Abu Mazen continues to place the burden on Israel, alleging Israel’s failure to comply with a total construction freeze prevents renewed talks. Abu Mazen, who insists he is not setting preconditions to resuming dialogue with Israel is however seeking Israeli assurances that Jerusalem will retreat to the pre-June 1967 boundaries to hand over the eastern portions of the capital to the PA, to become the capital of Palestine.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)