U.S. envoy: Peace process a ‘slog

The current Israeli-Palestinian peace process is a “long, hard slog,” the U.S. ambassador to Israel said.

Ambassador Richard Jones said Tuesday that the Bush administration still believes the negotiations launched by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Annapolis, Md. last November can lead to an accord by the end of 2008.

“The overarching logic of the Annapolis process is that a comprehensive agreement on a two-state solution, negotiated between the parties, will strengthen the political will on both sides to meet their commitments and generate support for them to do so within their respective publics,” Jones told a meeting
of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.

But he also noted the obstacles posed by Hamas’ rule over the Gaza Strip and the fact that Olmert has to keep together a coalition government including right-wing partners.

“Hamas and its allies in terror are doing their best to impede progress. The disparate members of Israel’s body politic will have to wrestle with and come to terms with every issue that comes up for discussion. This is going to be a long, hard slog,” Jones said.

“However, once a mutually acceptable vision is achieved, we believe that majorities on both sides will embrace the opportunity to achieve peace, prosperity and security,” he said.

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