US President Barack Obama
Photo: AFP
Obama may define terms of peace talks
US administration debates sending letters stating terms of negotiations renewal to Israel, Palestinians

WASHINGTON – The US administration is considering using its envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, as a go-between in talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to enter into direct negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is halted.


Another option being debated in Washington includes letters to be sent from President Barack Obama to both sides, in which he delineates the terms for the renewal of negotiations.


This option was raised due to a disagreement between the sides on the conditions for renewal of the peace process. The Palestinians are currently demanding a two-year timetable, while Israel demands recognition of Bush-era agreements on settlements.


The Obama administration estimates that the coming month will be crucial to peace talks. Jim Jones, the president's national security advisor, is scheduled to visit Israel this week, and Mitchell is also set to make an appearance.


The White House convened a meeting of all its Mideast representatives in order to discuss the two options for the renewal of talks, but it is as yet unclear whether Obama will approve the letters.


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