October 9th, 2009
11:34 AM ET
9 years ago

Top U.S. Mideast envoy meets with Israeli leader

JERUSALEM (CNN) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting on Friday with the top U.S. envoy to the Middle East was "useful and constructive," the Israeli leader's office said.

Talks between George Mitchell and Netanyahu focused on efforts to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the two men agreed to continue their discussions in the coming days, the minister's office said.

Mitchell will meet Saturday with two of Netanyahu's advisers, Yizhak Molcho and Mike Hertzog, it said.

He also plans to talk with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday, the State Department said.

Mitchell returned to the region this week to advocate peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but significant obstacles remain.

He met Thursday with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

It's his first visit to the region since Obama met with Netanyahu and Abbas in New York in September - a discussion that ended with a failure to get the two sides to agree on peace talks.

The dim odds of a breakthrough on Mitchell's trip were underscored by comments that Lieberman made Thursday to Israeli public radio.

"Those who think that we can within the coming years reach a global deal that will end the conflict do not understand reality. They are sowing illusions," he said.

"We have to be realistic - we will not be able to reach agreement on core and emotional subjects like Jerusalem and the right of return... I am going to say very clearly - there are conflicts that have not been completely solved and people have learned to live with it, like Cyprus."

Abbas has said the Palestinians will not return to negotiations until Israel freezes construction in settlements in the West Bank and stops building in East Jerusalem. The United States has pressured Israel to do that, but Netanyahu's government has declined, saying instead that it will limit construction in the West Bank and continue to build in East Jerusalem.

Persuading Abbas to relent on his demand for a freeze on settlements, meanwhile, may be much harder now than it was just weeks ago. That's because of a controversial decision by the Palestinian Authority to defer action on a United Nations report that criticized Israel for committing war crimes during its six-week military offensive in Gaza. About 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the offensive in December and January.

Many Palestinians have rebuked Abbas and his Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority for its decision. Hamas, the rival Palestinian faction that controls Gaza, has called it treason. The criticism has weakened Abbas politically and made it harder for him to back down on his insistence that Israel stop building settlements before Palestinians return to the negotiating table.

Mitchell made a similar trip to the region in mid-September, spending a week talking to Netanyahu and Abbas in hopes of brokering a deal ahead of their meetings with Obama.

Filed under: Middle East • State Department
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Huh? Peace talks? And the Republican Party is wondering why the POTUS was awarded the NPP. The Republican Party will not exist anymore if they keep putting politics above patriotism.

    October 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. rr

    Didn't President Obama just win the Nobel Peace Prize? Shouldn't there be peace in the mideast? He gave speeches, so why no peace?

    October 9, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. The real decision, when to be honest.


    The gift to Zealots from France, Germany and the US....60 years ago

    is proving out to be a failed experiment......The agitator in that pond (dont be fooled).

    Dis-arm Israel now of nuclear weapons.

    and our problems in the middle east will solve themselves.

    It is this Mistake of a response to the holocaust.....that has caused such pain everywhere, in then US and other democracies around the world.

    What you do to Iran, you must do to Israel

    Both must disarm, or both will must erase each other

    Israel most open the world to its nuclear stockpiles that the hold the world hostage to.....

    Or it is no better than North Korea and must be treated as such.


    An american Citizen who chooses to pay attention.

    October 9, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Jane/Seattle

    Let's get this show on the road if we are to believe that real Peace, Equality and Equity are the goals here. The problem is that U.S. and other capitalist financial interests get in the way of building any peace anywhere. This entire "free market driven" approach to Economics is totally Flawed and has proven to the World that it's interests only lie to enhance a greedy profit motive for the continued rape of Earth and it's living beings/Ghia. So just keep in mind that if anyone was truly Waging Peace, this tortured Earth would Have it Today-but this is not where their profits are found! Yes, this Is the Truth of this matter and always has been. Economic Terrorists are the True problem of our lives. These poor suffering peoples/animals are just more Pawns/Victims in this Big Geo-Political Game of who is King of the Hill! Namaste

    October 9, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Pa Santigie

    On this auspicious day 28 years and three days to the day Anwar Sadat was assassinated in Cairo, Pres. Barak Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize.
    Bebe Netanyahu should take time to reflect on what impact his actions and policies will have on the future.
    Does he want his legacy to be that of a stubborn unflinching obstructionist to peace or that of a pioneer for peace like his former Likud leader Manachem Begin.
    Peace is the hardest thing to fight for but yet the most rewarding.

    October 9, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. awaitingmoderationby CNN

    Didn't anyone tell him the meeting was unnecessary, that Carter and Obama won the peace prize for solving the problem?

    October 9, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Ron in GA


    October 9, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Hello?

    Israel is the thorn.

    Its a 60 year experiment that has killed more people than the Holocaust.

    Israel should be ashamed.

    Nuclear inspections of Israel NOW! no more hostage holding, its a sick game.

    Israel, Iran and N.Korea.....Israel is the key, dont let MOSSAD confuse you. And be careful.

    October 9, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. hal9000

    Obama's Nobel Prize will "inspire" both sides to reach a peace deal any day now! No need for an ambassador or envoy!

    Hope, not accomplishments is what counts today!

    October 9, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Vietnam Vet.

    The only way to jump start this delay and to get Netanyahu attention is for the US to immediately cease military arms, financial and intellegence information to Israel, all of the back talking, excuses and delay would be over in a heartbeat however, that would be to much like the right thing to do. With the majority of the large American Jewish support, Netanyahu can and will continue do as he please.

    October 9, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Irfan Haqqee

    So it means Settlement Freeze is no more an Obama Administration demand? Can someone explain why? Who made Obama back down from putting settlement freeze as a primary conditions for peace talks? I can understand that being a Nobel Peace prize winner he cannot hold a gun to Nathanyahu's head to get that done but he could have invoked International Law which forbids any construction on occupied land...

    October 9, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. B

    Obama will more than likely make progress on this issue because the people that he is dealing with SEE what was obviously not there before with Bush & Co..

    October 9, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Israel holds the key to peace there....all they have to do is FINALLY abide by the 42 year old UN resolution 242 and give back the lands they seized in their pre-emptive 1967 attack on five neighboring countries, stop building "settlements" on land they stole from the Palestinians, and finally accept the Saudi Peace Accord, which in turn grants Israel full recognition and acceptance of its right to exist by all Arab nations. Question is....does Israel value its occupied territories taken from neighbors more than it does peace? Sure seems that way to the vast majority of the world.....not ONE country recognizes as legal their seizure of Jerusalem, Shebba Farms, nor Palestinian farmland, towns and orchards.

    October 9, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. CNN is this thing on?


    Some neighbors protect their property with a bad dog......cross the fence and your lunch meat

    Some neighbors protect their property with firearms.....cross the fence and plink.....they pick your remains up from the property.

    The Neighbor that professes to Protect his property with a nuclear bomb is lynig to you......they waill blow up your house and annihilate your family.

    And you wonder why Israel is doing what its doing.....its driving its neighbors to insanity.

    Peace begins with Israel elliminating its nuclear arms.

    Israel youve been holding us all hostage long enough..... since Kennedy was shot.

    An average American who can read, connect dots and wants to end an experiment that has killed way to many innocents.

    October 9, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. D.

    Already putting pressure on friends (Israel) created unrest. Obama needs to learn the middle east before attempting bully policy that encourages Arab dictators to take more extreme position against Israel. The efforts so far led to unrest in the west bank (while it was silent before), rockets in Gaza (it was quite before Israel seemed to deter the terrorists before Obama showed like he is going to limit Israel's control over its security).
    On the day that a Nobel peace prize is given to Obama his administration should be careful not to extend terror and war in the middle east (the UN and recent USA efforts seems to be pushing forward the next armed conflict between Israel and the Arabs, not the opposite!).

    October 9, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |