Following two days of meetings with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, senior Palestinian Authority officials told Israel's Ynet news portal that there doesn't appear to be any hope of a peace agreement anytime soon.
One source said the Palestinians were hugely disappointed by the Americans' failure to more strongly pressure Israel to meet their new preconditions for peace talks. Another noted, "We are beginning to understand that without minimal American pressure, this will not happen soon and perhaps not even in the coming years."
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah faction has made a strategic decision to stick to its demands that Israel halt all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and the eastern side of Jerusalem before it will even return to the negotiating table. The Palestinians also want a firm guarantee that the talks will end with the creation of a fully-sovereign Palestinian state in all of those territories with Jerusalem as its capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already implemented a partial building freeze in Judea and Samaria as a gesture of goodwill, but insists that the Palestinians are going too far in their new demands, which prejudge the outcome of negotiations.
Many Israeli officials blame US President Barack Obama for raising Palestinian expectations so high that they have now climbed a tree they cannot come down from, and raised demands that no Israeli prime minister could ever meet in full.
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