Sunday, October 25, 2009

Palestinians say no talks soon; Peres: Problem is not on Israeli side

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are unlikely to resume in the near future, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday, blaming Israel for the impasse and urging Washington to do the same.

"The gap is still wide and Israel does not give a single sign of meeting its obligations under the road map, halting settlement activities and resuming negotiations where they left off," he told Voice of Palestine radio.

"I do not see any possibility for restarting peace talks in the near future," he said, in an assessment echoed by Israeli government officials.

The US-backed peace Road Map of 2003, which charts a course to Palestinian statehood, commits Israel to halting settlement activity in the West Bank.

"If President (Barack) Obama's administration cannot make Israel abide by its commitments, it has to announce that Israel is the party that is obstructing the launching of peace negotiations," Erekat said, referring the road map agreements.

President Shimon Peres met Monday with students from the Western Galilee and from the Manor-Cabri high school, where abducted soldier Gilad Shalit once studied.

The president commented on the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that "the problem is not on the Israeli side."