Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinians See Danger for Abbas in Resumed Israel Peace Talks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinians See Danger for Abbas in Resumed Israel Peace Talks

Article excerpt

Middle East peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians may resume in September. Palestinians warn it could be 'political suicide' for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

There was little for Palestinians to be upbeat about Friday as they waited for an official invitation to join Israel at resumed direct peace talks to be hosted by President Obama on Sept. 2.

The so-called Middle East Quartet of the European Union, United Nations, United States, and Russia that act as Israel-Palestine peace mediators issued a statement Friday in which they reaffirmed "their strong support for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues" that should "lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state... which can be completed within one year."

If Palestinians agree to attend, it will be the first such negotiations in a year and a half. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat told Reuters that the statement was a positive step but he didn't comment on the invitation to resume talks on Sept. 2.

"The most important thing now is to see to it that the Israeli government refrains from settlement activities, incursions, fait accomplis policies," he said.

His remark hints at the potential danger for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who may pay a heavy price for agreeing to resume talks despite the prospect of renewed Israeli settlement expansion in September and widespread skepticism among Palestinians that talks will yield results.

Palestinian politicians and analysts say that any breakthrough is highly unlikely, and there is a sense among many Palestinians that the talks are being renewed on Israeli rather than Palestinian terms.

''This is political suicide for Abbas, it will weaken him, not only in the face of Hamas but also from within Fatah,'' says Hani Masri, director of the Badael think tank in the West Bank capital of Ramallah. …

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