Today the media is abuzz with talk of direct talks – will the Palestinians and Israelis sit down and talk…
This must be the most complicated political, religious, and ethnic issue on the planet.
The Arab League is set to meet today, with Palestinian President Mahmod Abbas acknowledging that America and the European Union are pressuring him into advancing the negotiations, but he says there is no basis to move forward to direct talks with Israel. If he can convince the League to support his position – then the pressure will shift to Israel's side.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has come out saying that he will not extend the building freeze in the West Bank after September 26th because otherwise his government will fall from pressure from his right wing, nationalistic, and settler constituent parties within his coalition.
But Mr. Abbas has said that if he will be made to come to the table – Netanyahu must agree not to allow building in the areas of a future Palestinian State – period.
The Secretary General of the Arab League is not optimistic – and frankly most people here are skeptical about this whole thing and what exactly is going on.
Right now there is a report circulating that a former member of Israel's Knesset Haim Ramon was sent as an emissary to Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat.
It has been confirmed by all involved that the two men met at an upscale Jerusalem hotel. How the story broke is that an unnamed source was sitting nearby and alleges that he heard every word of the discussion plainly.
The content was that Israel's President was using Ramon to tell Erekat not to agree to direct talks as Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu would not give in to any of the Palestinian demands to reach a peace deal – which ultimately would be destabilizing.
The Presidents office confirmed that Mr. Ramon met with President Perez the day before for lunch, but denied that any such message was relayed to the Palestinians on his behalf.
Mr. Perez is due to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tomorrow in Egypt in a private meeting. No doubt both these ailing leaders will discuss the topic of peace – as both these men throughout their distinguished lives have witnessed so much war here. They know that their own time is running out for seeing the all-illusive Middle East Peace Deal come to a reality.
Middle East Correspondent