Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday again spurned US peace efforts, and Israeli officials said the peace outline special US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will propose in his upcoming visit to the region is doomed to failure.
Speaking to reporters at his office in Ramallah, Abbas said he remains opposed to direct peace talks until Israel implements a full freeze on Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already implemented a settlement freeze on new projects, but said he will not halt Jewish construction in Jerusalem or halt construction already underway in Judea and Samaria.
The impasse is likely to prevent direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but Mitchell still hopes to do some shuttle diplomacy and to impress on both sides the need for a two-year deadline for reaching a final status peace agreement.
The Palestinians have long wanted a firm deadline, knowing that the US will press Israel to make the land concessions needed to achieve it, even if the Palestinians fail or refuse to meet their security obligations.
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren warned in an interview with The Washington Post that an artificial deadline is both unrealistic and counterproductive.
In the past, deadlines announced by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush only intensified Palestinian non-compliance.
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