Experts: Israel- Palestine indirect talks hardly to succeed

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 4 / Trend U.Sadikhova /

Resumption of the indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is unlikely to lead to positive results, if Israel does not change its position on the issue of settlements, Arab experts believe. However, analysts have high expectations for U.S. efforts in the progress of the peace settlement.

"There is no evidence that the indirect talks will succeed, because Israel has not changed its position on the issue of Jewish settlements and has not demonstrated its commitment to the peace agreements," Deputy Editor of the Akhbar Al Khaleej newspaper Sayyid Zahra told Trend over the telephone.

Last weekend, the foreign ministers of Arab countries entering the Commission to promote initiatives for settlement with Israel, including the Palestinian Authority, have begun indirect talks with Israel, mediated and initiated by the United States. The Israeli media reported that the first round of indirect talks which will begin May 5, will address key issues of peace process - the demarcation of borders, the status of Jerusalem, Israel's settlement policy and the return of Palestinian refugees.

But analysts regard the U.S. initiative as disastrous due to lack of change in Israel's attitude to freeze settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority with the support of Arab countries refused from the indirect talks In March after the announcement of a plan by Israel to build 1,600 new homes in Jerusalem.

However, Israel hopes for the indirect format of the talks that will move to the beginning of direct dialogue to resolve the conflict.

"We are hopeful that the proximity talks will succeed and we will move very quickly to the direct talk," Israeli government's official Mark Regev told Trend over the telephone. "Because, just direct talks that can solve the problems."

Regev denied the information about the meeting between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned for the near future.

Palestinian Authority's official representative Ziad Abu Ain stated on the administration's unwillingness to negotiate with Israel because of its breach of the items of the agreement on the peace process and refusal to freeze settlement activity.

"The Palestinian Authority demands Israel to set a specific time frame for negotiations, which should lead to an agreement with a concrete result," Abu Ain told Trend over the telephone. "Another basic requirement remains the cessation of building settlements in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories and the fulfillment of all points of international agreements, the main of which are"road map" 2003 and the Oslo agreement."

Abu Ain ruled out the possibility of launching any direct negotiations between the administration and Israel, until the main issue - the construction of Jewish homes in the Palestinian territories is resolved.

Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences Govher Bakhshaliyeva also doubts that the resumption of indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would lead to positive results.

"The Palestinian problem, which is extremely painful, lies on the basis of all modern conflicts and confrontations of East and West," Bakhshaliyeva told Trend. "The problem should be solved fairly, to which both parties are not ready."

She said that a fair solution of the conflict can be the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. But Israel is unlikely to cede the city to Arabs.

In this regard, analysts think that the success of indirect talks depends mainly on the next steps of the United States as the chief mediator and initiator.

Abu Ain said that the Palestinian Authority welcomes the efforts of the United States. They also consider the question of Jewish settlements a stumbling block in the peace process.

However, Washington must shift its pressure from the Palestinian Authority on the Israeli leadership, especially on the issue of settlements. International control should be set over them. Otherwise, all efforts will be doomed to failure, Abu Ain said.

Arab politician Sayyid Zahra said that the U.S. do not demonstrate a desire to exert pressure on Israel. So, after four months indirect talks will lead to zero results.

It seems very difficult to imagine that indirect negotiations will be successful but the Americans are very committed to making this work now, Israel-Palestine research and information center head Gershon Baskin said.

"I believe that the U.S commitment to the promotion of this plan is the best option for the last time. It depends on how they [the Americans] would show their mind and will in this process," Baskin told Trend over phone.

The Americans wouldn't use both carrots and sticks. They will use their strength to provide the parties to move in sentence and they also wouldn't use their stick and if they don't do compromise the Americans perhaps are going to represent their peace plan.

Experts also do not believe that the Prime Minister Netanyahu's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, held on Monday in Sharm el-Sheikh, will lead to progress in the proximity of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Official representative Regev said that Israel considers this meeting as "strengthening of coordination in support for the Arab world".

Israeli analyst Baskin thinks that security on the border with Egypt and Gaza, and negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive by Palestinian group Hamas for more than three years are in the center of the talks between two leaders.

Cairo acts as one of the international mediator in the release of an Israeli soldier.

Arabian analyst Zahra considers Netanyahu's visit to Egypt as an attempt of Israeli Prime Minister to demonstrate his readiness to hold consultations and negotiations with Arab countries on the peace process.

"The visit to Egypt does not mean that Israel has changed its position," Zahra said.

Some Israeli officials also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of indirect talks on the peace process.

In an interview with Israeli Military Radio on Monday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Dan Meridor said that indirect talks are unlikely to lead to any results, since it is obvious that "real talks must be direct. The sooner they start, the sooner one can solve the problem.

Meridor also refuted the view that Israel does not want progress in the negotiations. He added that both parties do not benefit from the situation. They should work on the final agreement.

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