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Powered by GulfNews.com, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Peace simply unattainable at present


10/09/2009 10:32 PM | By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor

Dubai: As US President Barack Obama's special Mideast envoy continued his efforts aimed at an "early relaunch" of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks", an Arab expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict warned that achieving peace with the current extreme-right Israeli government is simply unattainable.

"This Israeli government can't move towards peace unless there is external pressure," Hassan Barari, a Jordanian researcher and university professor in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the US said.

"Had [US President Barack] Obama used America's weight he would have made a difference inside Israeli society, but until now his positions have been verbal and not been translated into policies," Barari told Gulf News, adding measures like halting financial aid would "raise the price of the Israeli government's obstinacy" among the Israelis themselves.

US special envoy George Mitchell, meanwhile, met yesterday morning with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a US effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians close enough to revive peace talks this autumn.

He was due to visit the nearby West Bank city of Ramallah later for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We're going to continue with our efforts to achieve an early relaunch of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," Mitchell was quoted by reporters ahead of a private meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in occupied Jerusalem.

The talks were halted late last year after the resignation of former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert and the election of the Likud leader Netanyahu.

While Palestinians are demanding negotiations do not start from scratch they insist on a complete freeze of Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank, a condition for reviving the talks - a demand rejected by the Israeli government. A three-way summit between Netanyahu, Abbas and Obama went ahead in New York without the US being able to announce a revival of the talks.

Israeli hardliner positions ahead of Mitchell's recent tour put all expectations in limbo.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said earlier he would tell Mitchell there was no chance of a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians for many years.

"I will tell him clearly, there are many conflicts in the world that haven't reached a comprehensive solution and people learned to live with it," Lieberman said.

In what many experts believe was an effort to "destabilise" the Israeli government internally, King Abdullah II of Jordan gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper published yesterday warning the impasse in the Middle East peace process is sending the region back into the "darkness".

"I believe the King gave the interview to Ha'aretz because he wants to penetrate Israeli society," Barari said adding the Jordanian monarch wanted to pass on the message of the difficulty of reaching a peaceful agreement with Netanyhau's government.

"For Jordan, which believes that a two-state solution is in its strategic interest, he has to win over radicals in Israeli society, and this can't be done but through talking to Israeli society directly&. And through their media," Barari, who has written four books on the nearly 60-year-old conflict, said.

He described Netanyahu's government as "a major obstacle on the road to peace", adding that political balances inside the government and the Knesset "don't allow a real re-launch of peace negotiations."

 
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