Israeli FM to US envoy: Past talks with Palestinians failed
US Mideast envoy George Mitchell pressed the two-state solution on Thursday to Israeli officials, where hawkish new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes a Palestinian state. "US policy focuses on the two-state solution," Mitchell told reporters after holding talks in Jerusalem with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "I reiterated to the foreign minister that U.S. policy favors, with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a two-state solution which will have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel," Mitchell told reporters.
"We look forward also to efforts to achieving comprehensive peace throughout the region," he added.
In response, Lieberman said that "the peace process has reached a dead end" and that "the new (Israeli) government will have to formulate new ideas and approaches," according to a statement from his office, cited by AFP. "The traditional approach has so far led to no solutions or results," Lieberman added.
Mitchell flew into Israel late Wednesday in his first trip to the region since Netanyahu assumed his post. "In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict," Mitchell said in Morocco on Tuesday.
Underscoring the divide with Washington, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai told reporters that, "In the present circumstances, one has to work not for two states for two people, but for two economies for two people." "Mr. Mitchell knows that imposing the region to a virtual dialogue can have inverse results," he said.
Netanyahu has been claiming that the economy in the occupied West Bank must be improved before any other steps are taken in the staggering Middle East peace process.
Mitchell was to travel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Friday for meetings with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.