Western diplomats said on Monday that nothing short of a political miracle was needed to see the stalemate plaguing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process dissipating. The statement was made ahead of the Middle East Quartet meetings scheduled for later this week.The Quartet's proposal to renew negotiations came on the heels of the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations last month, but officials involved in the negotiations say they are not optimistic about the prospect of jumpstarting the peace process.
- 'Israel no longer interested in two-state solution'
"I believe in miracles," one Western diplomat told Ynet, while others expressed doubt that negotiations would resume in the near future.
Quartet envoy Tony Blair is set to meet with the four Quartet members in Israel on Tuesday, but the details of their meetings with Israeli and Palestinian representatives, scheduled for Wednesday, are still not clear.
Quartet visit shrouded with pessimism (Photo:AP)
A European source involved in the negotiations said "there will be no problem meeting with Saeb Erekat, but there might be a problem with Yizhak Molcho's schedule, as he is set to return from abroad on Wednesday."
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office also expressed pessimism and doubt over the renewal of negotiations. "This meeting is not expected to result in a breakthrough. The Quartet determined the timetable, and it intends to keep up with it; this has no bearing on the renewal of negotiations," said the official.
Another Israeli source involved in the negotiations noted that "at the moment everything is stuck. Israel is not planning on offering (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas any gestures.
"If the Palestinians want to return to the negotiations table, they are welcome to do so without preconditions. Netanyahu is willing to hold direct talks anytime, anyplace," the source said.
Members of the top eight ministers' forum also opposed making gestures towards the Palestinian Authority, and the Prime Minister's Office recently denied a plan to declare a construction moratorium in the settlements.
'Obstacle to peace'
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated his personal position in public on Monday, saying that if there was one immediate and removable obstacle in the path to negotiations with the Palestinians it would be Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Pessimism was also expressed on the Palestinian side, an official in Ramallah telling Ynet that they do not have high expectations from the upcoming meeting with the Quartet.
The Palestinian official also stated that Abbas is insisting on a full moratorium, which will include "not only governmental construction, but also private projects and construction in east Jerusalem."
Ahead of the meeting, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged the Quartet to explicitly state which of the sides has been jeopardizing the peace process, adding that the Palestinian side is committed to international resolutions and the Road Map.
Elior Levy contributed to this story
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