Netanyahu not hopeful on future of peace talks

Sunday, January 29, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sounded a pessimistic tone when discussing with his cabinet ministers the future potential of direct peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

"The signs are not particularly good," said Netanyahu in reference to exploratory talks currently taking place in Amman, Jordan. "But I hope they will rebound and we can make progress."

Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian leadership for the seeming failure thus far of the Amman meetings, noting that the Palestinians "have refused to discuss with us our security needs."

A day earlier, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tried to lay the blame on Netanyahu and his government, insisting that "Israeli intransigence" was behind the failure of the Amman talks, which the Palestinians have threatened to pull out of if Israel does not meet their demands within a matter of days.

Abbas charged that Israel had failed to provide a "clear vision" regarding future borders and the removal of Jews from Judea and Samaria. Israel maintains that making such commitments at this point would prejudice the outcome of negotiations, and leave Israel with no bargaining chips.

Netanyahu has for years been urging Abbas to return to direct bilateral negotiations without preconditions. Abbas has during that same time being doing his utmost to paint Netanyahu has the primary obstacle to peace over his refusal to accept preconditions.

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