Over independent Palestinian State

Five rounds of “exploratory talks” between the Palestinians and the Israelis have failed to revive the derailed peace negotiations between the two over the formation of an independent Palestinian State.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said in Amman, where the talks were held, that the dialogue had not yielded any progress. However, he would consult other governments during a meeting of the Arab League on February 4, to decide on the next course of action.

Considerable international pressure had been mounted on the Israelis and Palestinians by the parties forming the Quartet — United States, Russia, European Union and the United Nations — to revive talks, which had stalled in late 2010. The dialogue had then run aground after Israel refused to halt fresh construction on territories that it had occupied during the 1967 war. Israel has built 100 settlements, declared illegal under international law, where nearly 500,000 of its citizens reside.

In order to revive negotiations, the Quartet had asked the Palestinians and the Israelis to work out within a three-month deadline, detailed proposals on security arrangements and the borders that they visualised for a Palestinian State. The Palestinians said they had submitted their proposals, unlike Israel. “If we demarcate the borders, we can return to negotiations, but Israel does not want to do that,'' said Mr. Abbas on Wednesday. On their part, the Israelis said rather than committing themselves in advance, they are ready to discuss everything during negotiations.

Hoping to energise the stagnating peace process, EU foreign policy chief Catharine Ashton is in the region for meetings with both side leaders. This would be followed up by a trip next week to the area by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. There have been suggestions that to encourage the Palestinians to return for talks, Israel could, as a confidence building step, release more Palestinian prisoners from its jails.

More In: International | News