Thursday, December 31, 2009

PMO: Possible breakthrough in bid to renew peace talks - Netanyahu offers Peace summit in Egypt

(Haaretz).Senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday that "there is a possibility of a breakthrough surrounding the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority."

According to the officials, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit in Cairo, the Egyptian administration was making efforts to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

They added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to arrive in Cairo next week to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They said further that the Egyptian diplomacy was being closely coordinated with the American administration.

The plan is to send Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Washington after Abbas meets with Mubarak, to brief the American administration on any progress.

The Egyptian initiative apparently stems from promises made by Netanyahu to Mubarak during his trip earlier this week regarding Israel's commitment to peace talks. Netanyahu presented Mubarak with agreements reached between Israel and the U.S. regarding the preconditions for talks, including the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian demand to return to 1967 borders.

(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed an Egyptian-hosted summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a possible way to resume stalled peace talks, Israeli officials said on Thursday.

The offer was the latest sign that progress was being made toward renewing U.S.-backed negotiations frozen for a year.

Palestinian and Egyptian officials had no immediate comment on the plan, which two Israeli officials said Netanyahu raised on Tuesday at talks in Cairo with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.

Abbas was due to meet Mubarak next week and U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected in the region in early 2010 for a new push to resume peace talks.

"Israel's idea of an Egypt-hosted peace summit with Abbas was proposed during Netanyahu's talks with Mubarak," an Israeli official told Reuters. Another official confirmed Netanyahu had raised the summit idea. Netanyahu's office would not comment. On Wednesday, a spokesman, Mark Regev, said Israel hopes to "indeed see the resumption of talks with the Palestinians in the near future."

Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Abbas, said the region "will see important political activity in the next two weeks."