Mideast Peace Talks Set to be Extended

UPDATE 05:30  EDT April 12:  US envoy Martin Indyk, in the  center of efforts to reach an agreement on continuing peace talks, has returned to Washington after a whirlwind trip to Israel/Palestine on Friday to consult with the two government leaders. and will return to the region after another negotiation session in Washington.

1.    Indyk will brief the negotiators in Washington on the positions taken by the governments

2.   The negotiators must then complete the agreement for presentation to the two cabinets. 

3.   Then the two cabinets will have to approve the deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with resigned Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fatteh al-Sisi in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the latest development in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Magdi al-Khaldi, Abbas’ diplomatic advisor, said Friday.  While in Cairo, Abbas also met with European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to discuss the peace process.

UPDATE 17;00 April  11:  Martin Indyk has met with officials in Israel Palestine and is heading back to Washington to brief the parties.  Only when the negotiating teams complete polishing the deal, will Palestinian Authority officials and the Israel cabinet take up the matter. 

The Jewish Home party has voted to leave the Israeli coalition if the deal passes cabinet.  Netanyahu will probably invite Labor into the government if that happens  and if Labor refuses new elections will be called.

UPDATE 13:10 EDT:   A senior American official reported Thursday that a deal freeing Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israeli-held Palestinian convicts will be carried out in the coming days.

According to the report, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will suspend some of his requests to join international conventions, Israel will free prisoners and freeze construction in Judea and Samaria, and the US will free Pollard. Then peace talks are to continue to the end of the year

Cabinet officials of the two sides will now meet to approve the deal, after which another meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will finalize the deal.Then peace talks are to continue to the end of the year.

There is almost no doubt that approval by the Israeli Cabinet will bring down the coalition, bringing new elections.

During the election period, an Israeli invasion of Gaza with hostilities spreading across the region are expected. While Bibi hopes that this will bring him victory in the field and in the elections, it is far  more likely that the Israeli voter shocked by massive barrages on its main cities will turn around and vote for a genuinely peace minded government.

Mideast Peace Talks Set to be Extended

Washington and Jerusalem sources report Thursday night that the Israeli Palestinian peace talks have been extended in a deal expected to be approved today during a meeting of the two sides with John Kerry. 

This breakthrough followed a meeting in Washington yesterday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a meeting between Kerry and Obama approving the deal  and an Arab League meeting on Wednesday also approving the deal. 

Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are due to hold another meeting on Thursday for final approval, alongside US mediators Indyk and Kerry. 

Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat, and US mediator Martin Indyk have so far met three times since Sunday.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, expressed on Thursday his willingness to extend peace talks with Israel past the end of April if Israel released the 30 prisoners scheduled for release on March 29..

The Arab League foreign ministers agreed to support the peace talks past their April 29 deadline and called upon Israel to release the fourth round of prisoners. 

In Israel there are now enough cabinet votes to approve the new deal.  Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett in an apparent effort to head off the deal, demanded on Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu annex all settlement blocks. 

Bennett has vowed to take his party out of the coalition and bring down the government if Netanyahu releases the prisoners or continues peace talks.  If he fulfills his repeated public statements, then new elections will have to be called for Israel.

The wiley Lieberman has indicated he will split from his joint ticket with Likud and seek the Prime Mininter’s office himself.

If a deal is approved by the negotiators today, prisoners could be released by Passover, April 15.

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