05/06/2010, 00.00
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Despite clashes and divergences, "indirect talks" between Israelis and Palestinians underway

So far the parties do not agree on anything. Netanyahu wants to talk about security and "the Jewish state," Abbas borders, east Jerusalem and refugees. But for the State Department the long conversation between Mitchell and the Israeli prime minister was "good and productive".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – They cannot even agree on whether “indirect talks” have begun. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers the long conversation yesterday (pictured) with Gordon Mitchell the U.S. envoy a beginning, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that before giving the official go ahead he must have the green light of the political leaders of his government.

Perhaps these are only skirmishes. But there is no agreement even on the subject matter for discussions: Netanyahu wants first of all to discuss security and the recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state," Abbas wants to talk about borders, refugees and East Jerusalem. "The negotiations - said the PNA president, after a meeting in Amman with King of Jordan - should be centred on the final question and there is no need to go into details and minor problems, because we had enough of this in Past negotiations. "

Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley called the meeting with the Israeli premier "good and productive". And the Jerusalem Post, in a pessimistic picture, sees something positive in the duration of the interview - three hours - between Israeli Prime Minister and the American envoy, nearly three times longer than in the past.

In this framework Mitchell prepares to continue his back and forth between Jerusalem and Ramallah. A half hour drive, sixty years of conflict. A mission to which Abbas has given a deadline of four months. Then he will return to consultations with the Arab League over whether it is worthwhile to push ahead, since, though not formally, the League supports Obama’s attempt to the bring the two sides back to direct negotiations.

A difficult mission. A  "neutral" voice, the Washington Post considers it "unlikely" that the right-wing government of Mr Netanyahu will "accept some of the conditions that are necessary for peace, such as Palestinian sovereignty over a part of Jerusalem." "The Obama administration - continues the newspaper - should recognize that softening pressure on Israel will not produce an agreement in the Middle East. The administration should instead press methodically on both sides to negotiate seriously. "

In Israel, Haaretz gives voice to the liberal front and an editorial writes that "if the government really wants to end the conflict it must find a way to speed up negotiations and restore confidence in their Palestinian neighbours." Netanyahu "must honour the commitments made by his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, at the Annapolis conference and continue the discussion on virtually all key issues, especially the permanent borders, Jerusalem and refugees." "The indirect talks - says the newspaper - are not a call-in program taking listener requests. The time has passed for the Palestinian Authority, and even the U.S. government, to dance to the tune of the Israeli piper. The hour has come for the decision makers to realize that time is working against the world's only Jewish democratic state. Netanyahu and his advisers would do well to drop their stalling tactics and direct their energy toward advancing the solution of two states for two peoples".

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