Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Collapse after Palestinians Declare Impasse

Washington, Jan. 26 - The Palestinians have walked out of the latest round of peace talks with Israel and seem set to try once again to win unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state through the United Nations rather than negotiating.

The latest round of talks broke down less than a month after they began, with Palestinians giving as a pretext the fact that Israel did not agree to their conditions over the borders of a future state.

The collapse occurred Wednesday (Jan. 25), which marked the fifth meeting this month between the two sides. Thursday (Jan. 26) was the three-month deadline set by the Mideast Quartet – the EU, the United States, the United Nations and Russia – for each side topresent its stances on borders and other security arrangements. The talks were being hosted in the Jordanian capital of Amman under the auspices of Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wished to continue the talks, telling EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, “We've been trying to make sure that the talks between us and the Palestinians will continue. That is our desire.”

During the course of the discussions, the Israeli side submitted a document outlining 21 points, but a Palestinian official accused the Israelis of not bringing anything fresh to the table. “The Israelis brought nothing new in these meetings," the Palestinian official said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared his disappointment over the talks even before the two sides had met a third time. Abbas also announced – and followed through on – plans to travel to the UK, Germany and Russia to discuss the negotiations with those countries’ heads of state and drum up new support to unilaterally declare an independent Palestinian state without a negotiated settlement.

Abbas said this week he would decide his next moves after conferring with the Arab League Feb. 4.

From the very beginning of the talks, however, Abbas had threatened to pull out if Israel did not accept borders based on pre-1967 lines and stop all construction in the territories and East Jerusalem. The PA president walked out of talks between the two sides 15 months ago over the issue of Israeli housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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