Finalizing an effort which has been months in the making, the Palestinian Authority today announced the official start of the US-brokered indirect peace talks with Israel, aimed at kick-starting a peace process which has been dead in the water for well over a year.
US envoy George Mitchell will spend the next four months relaying messages back and forth between the PA and the Israeli government, though expectations are low after several previous delays.
Yet as soon as the talks were formally begun, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already rejecting their potential usefulness and demanding that the process move along to direct talks quickly.
PA officials responded that they would agree to direct talks as soon as the Netanyahu government announces a settlement freeze. Netanyahu has repeatedly ruled out such a freeze, though reports have emerged that some construction would be frozen.
Faced with a fractious right-far-right coalition government, Netanyahu can ill afford to appear too accommodating of the peace process, and several high ranking members of the government are openly opposed to peace talks, whether direct or indirect.
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