Tuesday, March 9, 2010

US to Israel: Olmert's concessions based on Annapolis understandings are non-binding

(Haaretz).The Obama administration announced Monday night that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to resume the peace process by means of indirect negotiations, facilitated by U.S. special envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell.

Mitchell told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the understandings reached following the 2007Annapolis Conference are non-binding in the current round of negotiations, Haaretz has learned.

Mitchell met with Netanyahu Monday, and then went to Ramallah to meet Abbas.

"I'm pleased that the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships have accepted indirect talks," Mitchell said in a statement last night. "We've begun to discuss the structure and scope of these talks, and I will return to the region next week to continue our discussions. As we've said many times, we hope that these will lead to direct negotiations as soon as possible."

The American envoy also called on "the parties, and all concerned, to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks."

Sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau expressed satisfaction that negotiations are restarting after more than a year, but refused to comment on the details of the process.