Palestinians looking to scuttle new peace talks

Thursday, May 20, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

In his meeting with US envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spent a great deal of time complaining about alleged minor Israeli "provocations," prompting concern in Israeli officials that the Palestinian leadership was looking to again scuttle the peace process.

Mitchell is in the region as part of new US-brokered indirect peace negotiations. During his meeting with Abbas, he was presented with letters detailing Palestinian complaints against Israel, including the arrest of several wanted Palestinian terrorists by Israeli security forces, an unsubstantiated claim that Jewish residents of the West Bank shot dead a Palestinian teenager who was stoning them, and recent "provocative" statements by Israeli officials.

Naturally, Abbas failed to address the ongoing incitement to hatred against Jews emanating from official Palestinian media organs and being taught in the Palestinian public school system, or the numerous incidents of low-level violence against Israeli Jews over the past week.

Such incidents on both sides have been par for the course over the past two decades since the start of the land-for-peace process and the introduction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian Arabs.

That Abbas is making a big deal over such incidents, most of which are unproven, is evidence to many Israelis that the Palestinians have no desire to see the current talks succeed.

A senior Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that is appeared Abbas was once again laying the groundwork to scuttle negotiations. In the past, Israel and the Palestinians have on several occasions come close to concluding a final status peace deal, only to have an outbreak of Palestinian violence or new Palestinian hardline demands bring the process to a screeching halt.

In the summer of 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was ready to meet nearly all of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's demands at their summit at Camp David. At the last minute, Arafat rejected all Israeli proposals and ended the talks. A month later, the Second Intifada, or "Oslo War," broke out in Jerusalem. Former US President Bill Clinton has since openly blamed Arafat for the collapse of the Camp David talks.

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