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Negotiators trying in vain to salvage peace talks as deadline nears

English.news.cn   2014-04-07 18:16:49

JERUSALEM, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat met late on Sunday in Jerusalem along with U.S. Mideast Envoy Martin Indyk in a bid to solve the crisis in the peace talks, but no progress has been made during the meeting, an Israeli official source told Xinhua on Monday.

The source said that the Israelis threatened the Palestinian Authority over its move to join international treaties and conventions with sanctions, whereas the Palestinians demanded that Israel would release the fourth batch of the Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinians were also furious about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declaration on Sunday regarding "reciprocal one-sided moves" towards the Palestinian Authority and they said such moves are decreasing the chance to extend the talks.

Earlier on Sunday, hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left little hope of progress in the talks, saying he prefers having the government collapse and facing new elections to releasing a group of Israeli-Arabs, expected to be freed among the fourth batch of the Palestinian prisoners.

"If the choice is between releasing Israeli-Arab prisoners and going to elections, I'd rather go to elections," Lieberman said in a Jerusalem Post conference held in New York.

The recent crisis materialized after Israel delayed and later announced it refused to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners out of 104 it committed to release when the talks were resumed in July, which includes 14 Israeli-Arab prisoners.

Israel also announced more settlement construction in east Jerusalem, on lands annexed following the 1967 Mideast War. These moves were followed by Abbas approaching to join 15 international treaties and conventions.

Israel fears that the Palestinians would ask to join the International Criminal Court in Hague and file complaints over Israel's policy and occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem territories.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made incessant efforts to reinstate the peace talks and push them forward in the past year, said that Washington was evaluating whether it was worth continuing its role in mediating the peace talks amid the recent crisis.

Kerry tried to salvage the talks by a quick surprise visit to Jerusalem last week and offering Israel to release American- Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israeli release of prisoners. However, he canceled another trip amid unilateral steps from both sides, which he deemed "unhelpful" to the talks.

On Saturday, Israel's chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, who blamed Abbas and the Palestinian Authority last week for breaking their commitments amid their requests to join the treaties, told the Channel 2 news that the U.S. should change its role in the Middle East peace process and push forward more direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Livni, who seemed optimistic about the continuation of the peace talks despite the crisis, said that she believes that "we need to move to more meetings and more direct negotiations." She added that "we will have to struggle to see how we fix it, how we make progress and what we must do to move forward."

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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