Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with US special envoy George Mitchell on Saturday. The two discussed the state of peace negotiations and proximity talks, in light of Israel's request to move to direct talks. Meanwhile, Ynet has learned that Egypt plans to demand several gestures from Israel as a condition to begin direct negotiations.
Before the meeting, Abbas told Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad that he that he is not wiling to resume direct talks without real progress in the proximity talks. He reiterated the Palestinian condition for a complete halt of construction in settlements before direct talks can begin.
Abbas is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday, the same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to visit the country. The Palestinian president said in the interview that he does not plan to meet with Netanyahu there.
Ynet has learned that the Egyptians intend to discuss the possibility of moving to direct talks with both leaders, but not without demanding several confidence-building steps from Israel.
Transfer of security control in Area C
These steps include progress in indirect talks on the issue of borders, and also granting the Palestinian Authority security control in broader areas the West Bank. These territories include parts of Area C, which is currently under Israeli control, and Israel will also be asked to allow the PA to open police stations in these areas.
Palestinian sources estimated that even if the launch of direct talks is declared in the coming weeks, they would not begin before September 26, the last day of the settlement construction moratorium.
Mitchell (L) with Abbas in Ramallah Saturday (Photo: Reuters)
One possibility being examined is a transition into direct negotiations without an official declaration. Another option is that the freeze be extended without an official announcement, In this case, Israel would settle for completing construction plans that were declared before the freeze in areas that are to remain under its control in the frame of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians. This area refers mainly to the major settlement blocs.
The Palestinian president gave two more conditions for the resumption of direct talks: First, Israel must agree to the idea of a third party guarding the borders of a future Palestinian state before direct peace talks can begin. Second, Israel must agree in principle to an equitable land swap that would compensate the Palestinians for West Bank land absorbed by Jewish settlements in any peace deal.
He expressed his objection to a population exchange and noted that a solution must be reached regarding the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Follow Ynetnews on Facebook