Source : https://dofollownet.com
George Mitchell, the White House "Special Envoy to the Middle East", is well known for his persuasion skills and deep knowledge of the region. But for his first trip since the formation of Israel new government, the task assigned by President Barack Obama will require enormous tenacity.
This friday, when meeting Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian West Bank leader, he announced his intention to encourage the establishment of a Palestinian state - "the only and best solution," said Mitchell - using the 2002 Saudi peace initiative which calls for recognition of Israel by the 22 Arab countries in exchange for its withdrawal from the occupied territories.
However, negotiations between parties have not yet begun, and the condition, brought by the new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the Palestinians recognize "Israel as a Jewish State", is an obstacle that Mitchell will need to overcome.
In 2000, then prime minister Ehud Barak broke the peace negotiations, saying that "the PLO is the party that refuses to negotiate". Today, it is the Netanyahu government that rejects the two-states solution and seems to make peace negotiations impossible.
The Netanyahu new condition, the acceptance by Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish State, means, for PLO, the annulment of the right of return for refugees. Palestinian leaders are aware that, in case of a signed agreement, Israel would only accept a few thousand of the millions who live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza. But they deny that such a case is settled before starting the dialogue.
"We absolutely do not recognize Israel as a Jewish State," said a source from the PLO. In a communique, the PLO added: "We have already recognized the State of Israel. The new status is not included in any agreement signed between Israel and the PLO, has never been a treaty between Israel and the Arab States, and Nor is the practice of international law ... The Netanyahu's demand only serves the purpose of halting progress towards peace negotiations."Read »