The Palestinian Authority is betting on George Mitchell. The PA sees the current round of talks held by the US special envoy to the Middle East as crucial to salvaging the peace process.
Mitchell met with Israel's leadership over the course of the past two days, including President Shimon
Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and opposition leader, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni. He also met with IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
The former senator is scheduled to visit Ramallah on Friday. The Palestinians warned that unless the international community "massively pressures" the new Israeli government, "the Palestinian public will understand that the peace process is nothing more than a big joke."
A PA official told Ynet that the Palestinian public was loosing what is left of its faith in the peace process. Immediate action must be taken to demand of Israel that it honor its commitments, he said.
"We will make it clear to Mitchell that we are committed to the Road Map, to Annapolis, to the Arab peace initiative – and that the Americans must make sure that the Israelis uphold their commitments; first and foremost the cessation of all settlement activity, especially in Jerusalem," he said, adding that Israel must also stop building its security barrier.
Mitchell with PA President Abbas (Archive photo: AP)
According to the Palestinians, they will work with Mitchell to explore the possibility of establishing an international body that would be charged with overseeing the process and monitoring the commitments of both sides.
"We’ll make it clear that we want the Americans to guarantee a genuine political process that will lead towards a permanent agreement," the official said, adding that Mitchell will be told that "whether the government in Israel is right-wing, centrist, or left-wing – it isn't relevant to the political process and the commitments that the UN, the Quartet, and the entire international community back."
The Palestinians are concerned by reports that Washington will only focus on a permanent agreement in several years time.
"We will tell the Americans that for years there has been talk of an agreement within years, so we expect of them to timetable the entire peace process, to make it clear to (both) sides that the Americans
guarantee the realization of each of the steps and each one of the commitments."
The Palestinian Authority rejects the economic peace model proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying it would be the final nail in the coffin of the stagnated peace process.
"There is no economy without peace, and no economic stability without genuine negotiations. Another 500 laborers working in Israel will not make the Palestinians give up their demands and will not get us to accept never-ending negotiations where the Israelis continue to do what they have done over the past years, stall for time," the official.