Participants in the Israeli-Palestinian talks will outline progress at a November summit in Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had wanted the sides to come to Sharm el-Sheik with an “inventory” of achievements, Ha’aretz reported Thursday, but the Israeli and Palestinian teams dissuaded her from that approach. Instead, the sides will outline progress to representatives of the Quartet, the grouping of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union that guides the peace process. The Bush administration is eager to make good on President Bush’s pledge to have an agreement in place before he leaves office in January. Benchmark documents are unpopular among Middle East negotiators because they are seen as limiting negotiations by locking the sides into positions before an agreement is in place. In meetings with Rice, Israeli and Palestinian leaders said they would still strive for an agreement in the next few months.
“We have also discussed the issues related to the importance of reaching complete, comprehensive solutions, not partial solutions and not postponing any of the main issues,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said after meeting with Rice in Ramallah on Sept. 27. Abbas nonetheless was sharply critical of the Bush administration for not intensifying peace efforts until its last year in office.
“What do we want of the new administrations?” he said when asked what he would tell the next U.S. president. “That they will continue with the peace process.”
Abbas went on to say that “seven years should not be wasted” in a bid to find new solutions. Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and prime minister-designate, said she understood Palestinian frustration with settlement expansion, but also noted Israeli frustration with continuing terrorist attacks. Neither issue should be an excuse to impede talks, she said after her own Sept. 27 meeting with Rice in Jerusalem.
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