New US peace push must come soon – Palestinians


The United States must move fast on its planned drive to revive Middle East talks before Palestinians seek recognition as a state, said a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“It’s time for the American administration to move before September,” said President Mahoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah.

Given a continuing impasse despite 18 years of talks, Palestinian leaders aim to ask the UN General Assembly in September for recognition of statehood on all of the territory Israel occupied in 1967. That would include Gaza, over which the Palestinian Authority currently has no control, Reuters reports.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, suggesting a stronger hand by Washington to try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Talk about plans and new initiatives is not enough. There should be an effective U.S. role and strong policy against settlements,” Abu Rdainah said in response.
“The administration has started to realise the situation in the Mideast is dangerous,” he added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was to brief Western representatives in Brussels on Wednesday on his bid for nearly $5 billion in investment to launch a Palestinian state.

The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have praised Fayyad’s drive over the past two years to establish the institutions and attributes of a modern state in time for the General Assembly meeting.

U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last September in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

In a speech to Arab and U.S. policy makers that placed particular emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Clinton said President Barack Obama will lay out his policy towards the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against unilateral moves such as declaring statehood, arguing that a solution could only be achieved by direct negotiations.

Abbas refuses to resume the suspended talks until Israel freezes all settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, arguing that Jewish settlers are being allowed to take more land away from a future Palestinian state every week.

An Israeli government official, who declined to be named, said Israel was ready to begin negotiations again at any time.
“Israel remains ready for the immediate start of peace talks. Unfortunately until now the Palestinians have prevented such talks from beginning,” the official said.

Netanyahu is widely expected to visit the United States in May and media reports have said he may float fresh ideas on how to get the peace process going again.