US buys time in Mideast, but also woes

Palestinians pray next to the body of Essam Kamal during his funeral in the West Bank village of Qusra, near Nablus, on Saturday. Israeli security forces shot dead Kamal in the West Bank on Friday during a confrontation in his village with Jewish settlers, Palestinian officials said (Reuters photo by Abed Omar Qusini)

By Matthew Lee

The Associated Press, JORDAN TIMES

UNITED NATIONS – The Obama administration has managed to buy time and may have staved off an embarrassing and politically awkward showdown over Palestinian statehood at the UN. It may also have manoeuvred itself into a corner.The US and the rest of the international diplomatic Quartet of Mideast peacemakers endorsed specific timelines for restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Friday.

The US hopes that new talks aimed at drawing a Palestinian state will persuade the Palestinians to put their separate bid for full statehood recognition at the UN on hold.

At the same time, committing to those detailed deadlines raises potentially unrealistic hopes for success and locks the administration into a process that will play out as President Barack Obama fights for reelection.

Seeking to avert a confrontation over the Palestinian UN bid, the Quartet members – the US, EU, UN and Russia – issued a statement urging the Israelis and Palestinians to return to long-stalled negotiations and reach an agreement no later than the end of next year.

There are interim deadlines for progress on certain issues.

The statement made only passing mention of the Palestinian statehood matter that seized world attention at the annual UN General Assembly this week.

It also glossed over many of the most difficult issues that the Israelis and Palestinians must face on a tight deadline.

Within 30 days, the Quartet said, the Israelis and Palestinians should agree to an agenda and parameters for peace talks and produce comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.


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