Obama's Envoy in Israel for Talks As Peace Climate Sours

Final peace deal still a challenge

Thursday, Oct 8, 2009  |  Updated 4:25 AM EDT
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Obama's Envoy in Israel for Talks As Peace Climate Sours

AP

President Barack Obama watches as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009.

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President Obama’s top Middle East envoy has arrived in Israel for talks amid fresh cause for concern over the country’s prospects for lasting peace with the Palestinians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigor Lieberman said Wednesday it would be unrealistic to think that both sides could come to a final peace deal, The Associated Press reported. Instead, he said that peace negotiators should instead pursue interim agreements and leave the big decisions “to a much later stage.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is facing unprecedented local anger, street protests and calls for his resignation for his decision last week to temporarily withhold support for a U.N. report on the Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians.  Abbas’ decision was made under heavy “pressure” from the Obama administration since the report could lead to war crimes charges for Israeli officials and complicate peace talks, Israeli and Palestinian officials told the AP.

Peace prospects got a boost last month when the leaders of Palestine and Israel shook hands in a historic three-way meeting with Obama on the sidelines of U.N. General Assembly meetings. "Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," the president had said as he met with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Get more: MSNBC, New York Times
 

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