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Mitchell visits Abbas in Ramallah:

June 11, 2009

U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, met with President Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday to discuss the two-state solution and Road Map for Peace. 

 During the meeting, Mitchell advocated a “prompt resumption and early conclusion” of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.   “The only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states.”

 Mitchell made the obligations of each side clear, as agreed upon in the Road Map for Peace.  Israel must stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including ‘natural growth.’  Palestinians must stop using violence.

 During the meeting, Abbas gave Mitchell an itemized list of Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian homes that Israel has recently demolished in East Jerusalem.  He wanted to make it clear “which side is fulfilling its commitments, and which side isn’t.”

 Abbas is calling for a settlement freeze, recognition by Israel of previous, signed agreements, lifting of the siege on Gaza, and removal of roadblocks in the West Bank. 

 Netanyahu has yet to issue a clear statement about the resumption of peace talks leading to a two-state solution.  His failure to do so has created an atmosphere of tension between the U.S. and their ‘closest ally’ in the Middle East. 

 Mitchell reiterated that the Road Map is in the interests of both sides, and “both have a responsibility to meet their obligations.” 

 Netanyahu is due to give a speech this Sunday outlining his policy on relations with the Palestinians.  Many Israelis are expecting him to endorse a plan to create a separate Palestinian state.

 “As President Obama said last week, America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

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