Mitchell in new round of talks to promote direct negotiations
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, Senator George Mitchell is due to hold talks Tuesday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before returning to Washington on Wednesday.
State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters Monday in Washington that "Mitchell will hold further consultations over the phone with a number of our allies in the region and will hold talks tomorrow with the parties in the context of our continued efforts towards the launching of direct negotiations as soon as possible." Asked whether Mitchell was carrying some incentives to the Palestinian side, which insists on the freeze of settlement construction, Crowley said, "that direct negotiation is the only way to determine the objective we all want, which is to promote stability and security in the region and establishment of a viable Palestinian ".
Crowley ruled out a Palestinian state without direct negotiations. "The United States believes that the Palestinians have a strong incentive to enter negotiations by which they can resolve all the issues," he said.
For his part, Abbas announced he will agree to resume direct negotiations "if the international Quartet on the Middle East calls for this." During a meeting with journalists at his office in Ramallah on Monday he said, "If the Quartet calls to go to direct negotiations in accordance with its resolution of 19 March 2010, we are ready to go directly to these negotiations."
He reiterated that "The Palestinian leadership will go to the negotiations, direct or indirect after agreeing on the terms of reference for the negotiations and the settlement activity freeze," noting that these two conditions are "required for the success of the negotiations."