Palestinian Official Pessimistic about Talks with Israel, but Jordan’s King Upbeat
A top Palestinian official said in Gaza Sunday that the recently revealed back-door talks with Israel are "doomed to failure," while King Abdullah II of Jordan said in a television interview he saw a "window of hope" in negotiations between Arabs and Israelis.
Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman told reporters that negotiations over the past few weeks in Stockholm were "doomed to failure because the Palestinian leadership rejects all compromise on an Israeli retreat to the June 1967 borders, including in holy Jerusalem, and on Palestinian refugees and settlements."
"It seems that the government of (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Barak is not a government of peace, but a government exclusively concerned with security arrangements and settlements," said Abdel Rahman.
The negotiations, which Barak suspended May 21 after violence in the Palestinian territories, are due to restart within days, according to Israeli media reports.
Meanwhile, King Abdullah, starting a 10-day visit to the United States, said he expected to see "big efforts" on the peace process over the next two months.
"The Israeli-Palestinian track is moving along and we have seen many developments over the past few months and we sometimes come upon obstacles, but that's to be expected," King Abdullah said Saturday in a television interview in Iceland, where he stopped on his way to the United States.
"I still believe there is a window of hope on the Syrian track," Abdullah said in the interview, published in Jordan by the official news agency Petra.
The monarch, who is scheduled to meet in the United States with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US President Bill Clinton, has been in close contact with Palestinian officials and last week held talks in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
The Jordanian king was instrumental in contributing to the resumption of Syrian-Israeli peace talks late last year but the negotiations have been crippled since January.
Last week's Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon after 22 years of occupation triggered hope that Israel and Syria, the major power broker in Beirut, will be motivated to return to the negotiating table -- (AFP)
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