Saturday, July 31, 2010

Report: Obama sends Arabic written letter to Abbas urging an warning him to launch Direct peace talks with Israel

(Politico,Ma'ariv).President Barack Obama has sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urging that he agree to go into direct talks with the Israelis next month, and warning that if he doesn’t, relations with the United States would be affected, Arabic newspaper Al Hayat and Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv are reporting.

The White House declined to comment Saturday on the reports of an Obama letter or confirm its existence.

Ma'ariv sourced confirmation of the letter to the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saab Erekat, while Al Hayat cited in detail from what it said was a leaked draft of the letter.

Among the letter's 16 points, the papers said, Obama pledged that if Abbas agreed to go into direct talks, there would be an extension of a partial Israeli West Bank settlement freeze currently due to expire in September.

"It is time to go to direct negotiations with Israel," the letter states, according to Al Hayat. "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to move to direct negotiations in the wake of the meeting held with him."

The letter warns that if Abbas refuses to enter direct talks next month, it will have implications on the relationship between the United States and the Palestinian Authority, and undermine trust in Abbas, the papers states.

Obama promised in his letter that would support the Arab League , EU and Russia on Palestinians, if the talks would resume.

Earlier today, said Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and selling the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al - Quds Al - Arab, that "the United States squeeze us to open direct negotiations with Israel."

She said Washington are active heavy pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Chairman of the Arab countries. "The United States threatened to isolate politically Authority if it refuses to open direct negotiations with Israel.. It reached the level of blackmail ",Ashrawi claimed.

"The truth is with all sincerity,That in all my history in the negotiations, I have never seen such pressures on the Palestinian side."

Points 15 and 16 concern Israeli obligations and future confidence-building steps, the paper states.

The U.S. may be sensitive about confirming the letter if it seems to reveal confidential understandings it reached with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concerning confidence-building steps under consideration to encourage direct talks, including a possible extension of the West Bank settlement freeze. One Washington Middle East hand told POLITICO that if Abbas agrees to direct talks before September 26th, Netanyahu has agreed that there will be no more settlement building after that.

Similarly, the U.S. seemed reluctant Saturday to be seen as overbearing in its pressure on Abbas to accept direct talks or face an Obama administration less committed to the peace process.

In an interview with Israeli daily Haaretz Saturday night, chief Palestinian negotiator Erekat described the latest Palestinian peace proposal to Israel relayed via U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell as the most far-reaching to date.

One could almost imagine an angry Obama White House calling Erekat to complain Saturday that he had reportedly confirmed the existence of an Obama letter whose details it was understood were supposed to remain confidential.

Erekat also denied to the paper reports that the Obama administration had threatened to penalize the PA if Abbas did not agree to enter direct talks with Israel over a final-status