Mitchell talks negotiating tracks


Middle East Bulletin, the publication of the liberal Center for American Progress’ Middle East Progress initiative, has an interview with Obama administration Middle East envoy George Mitchell. While he mostly speaks in "diplomat-ese," he does discuss the multi-track negotiating approach that the U.S. hopes to take if the Palestinians agree to come to the table:

We have always intended for negotiations to proceed on a variety of tracks. These will include high-level direct talks to establish a framework for the negotiations and set a positive atmosphere in which they can proceed; parallel talks between the U.S. and Israel and the U.S. and the Palestinians on key issues, such as security; and lower-level direct talks in which negotiators work through the details of the issues. In the current environment, we think it makes sense to explore a re-launch of negotiations through a mix of these tracks.

Mitchell does also seem to acknowledge that the administration’s efforts to get movement from Arab states has not yet borne any fruit:

Your requests of Arab states to make steps toward normalization in support of the Arab Peace Initiative also appear not to have yielded results. What kinds of steps can different Arab states take and what would the role of the Arab states be during the negotiation process?

We asked Arab governments to take steps toward normalization with Israel to demonstrate that they are serious about the Arab Peace Initiative; that a better future for all of the region’s people is possible; and that, in the context of peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon, Israel would assume its rightful place in the region. These steps included re-opening of diplomatic and trade offices, an expansion of political and non-political contacts between Israelis and Palestinians, and an increase in trade and commercial ties, among other similar actions. We also are calling for a return to an active multi-lateral or regional track with the return of negotiations between the parties.

The whole interview is here.

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