Though they aren’t officially over until April 29, the signs are that the Israel-Palestinian peace talks are pretty well dead, with US efforts to try to salvage or extend the talks ending in failure.
The talks had been going nowhere fast, but really collapsed over the weekend, when Israel reneged on its last round of prisoner releases. That, and subsequent Palestinian applications to several UN conventions, have brought negotiations to a standstill. Bizarrely, Israeli officials claimed the prisoner releases were cancelled to punish the Palestinians for the conventions, even though the conventions were signed four days after the release was scheduled.
US officials are pointing the finger at Housing Minister Uri Ariel, an opponent of the peace talks who they say deliberately sabotaged their last-ditch efforts to negotiate a continuation.
The US effort would’ve included releasing convicted US spy Jonathan Pollard in return for an Israeli settlement freeze and a Palestinian agreement to continue the talks.
Ariel threw a wrench into that on multiple fronts, claiming Pollard didn’t want to be released, and then announcing tenders on 708 new settlement housing units.
US officials also promised to do everything they could to oppose any UN recognition of the Palestinians. The PA insisted they could withdraw their applications to conventions if Israel follows through on the prisoner releases, though this seems unlikely to happen at this point.
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