Abul Gheit: ‘Direct negotiations may end even before they begin’

Direct peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis due to begin this Thursday in Washington are likely an effort in futility, said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit.

"These negotiations are very likely to end even before they even start," said Abul Gheit in an interview to be published tomorrow in the government-owned weekly magazine Al-Mussawar. "The Israeli side may act foolishly which would put an end to the negotiations, or they may remain silent regarding the flawed resolution on freezing settlement activity."

"We would then continue with the negotiations only to discover that no changes have been made," Abul Gheit continued. "In such a case the Palestinian side first needs to be backed up by the Arabs and second they need resolutions that will lead to change."

Abul Gheit derided Israeli settlement policy, saying the recent freeze only applied to new settlements and that construction on settlements approved before the moratorium continue unabated.

"Truth be told, the decision to resume direct negotiations was not an independent Palestinian decision but rather that the Arab follow-up committee expressed its understanding of the importance of starting these negotiations," he said.

Abul Gheit pointed out that the United States, European Union and international Quartet all called for the start of these negotiations.

Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa voiced reservations regarding the negotiations last Sunday. After a conference in Slovenia, Moussa said that it was useless to conduct talks with the Israelis as long as they continue to occupy the Palestinian territories. Past experiences have led to a loss of hope for any success, Moussa added.

In the event of failure, Abul Gheit plegded to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution outlining the future of a Palestinian state.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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