Biden Arrives in Israel, Amid Signs of Peace Process Renewal

By Barak Ravid (Haaretz)

Published March 08, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Israel on Monday afternoon, to deliver a message to the Israeli public about U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East peace process.

The vice president’s visit comes a day after the PLO’s executive committee approved a proposal allowing the Palestinian president to begin indirect negotiations with Israel through U.S. mediation, effectively ending a 14-month breakdown in communications between the two sides.

Palestinian officials warned, however, that they would walk away if the outlines of a border deal with Israel have not emerged after four months. They also ruled out subsequent direct talks without a complete Israeli settlement construction freeze.

U.S. special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, arrived in Israel over the weekend for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in effort to see negotiations relaunched.

Mitchell held a four-hour meeting in Jerusalem with Netanyahu on Sunday. The two will meet again on Monday, after which Mitchell will head off to Ramallah to for talks with Abbas.

“If there is a desire to get to direct talks through a corridor then I think the sooner the better,” Netanyahu, referring to U.S.-mediated “proximity talks”, told reporters at the start of his meeting with Mitchell.

Mitchell said he hoped for a “credible, serious, constructive process” leading to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

A brief statement issued by Netanyahu’s spokesman after the session said the Israeli leader and Mitchell “had a good conversation … on moving the diplomatic process forward”. The statement did not reveal whether the two had reached an agreement on the tangible resumption of talks, which the United States has offered to mediate.

Both the PLO and the Arab League have expressed skepticism about Israel’s intentions, but said they want to give U.S. mediation a chance.

Renewed talks would mark U.S. President Barack Obama’s first success in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. In coming months, Mitchell is expected to shuttle between Abbas’ headquarters in Ramallah and Netanyahu’s office a half hour away in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians broke off the talks when Israel launched its offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 to stop daily rocket fire from the coastal territory.

Netanyahu has said he prefers direct peace talks, but would accept mediated negotiations.

For more than a year, the Obama administration has been laboring to get both sides negotiating again, disappointed to discover that its plan to fast-track peacemaking would be frustrated by deeply rooted conflicts and domestic politics.

The U.S.-mediated talks are expected to focus on guidelines for discussing the key issues that have divided Israelis and Palestinians for decades: final borders, the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees, and a resolution to the rival claims to Jerusalem.






Find us on Facebook!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.