The Deputy Prime Minister of Israel believes that the forthcoming indirect negotiations between his government and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are "doomed to failure". Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Dan Meridor said, "Indirect talks will not yield any results. I hope they will yield results, but I don't think they will."
Mr. Meridor, a member of Likud, is the minister responsible for the intelligence and nuclear portfolios and is regarded as a moderate within the right-wing coalition government. His statement comes at a time when US Special Envoy George Mitchell is about to begin a new round of shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to Mr. Meridor, "Each party wants to draw the Americans over to their side which will have an adverse effect and in reality will create significant divergence between the parties." Only direct negotiations which "include difficult choices for Israel", will have any chance of success, he added.
George Mitchell is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prepare for the resumption of indirect talks following months of stalemate. The talks themselves are expected to begin within days, following the green light given by the Arab League to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last Saturday.
US sources say that the indirect talks, involving Mr. Mitchell quite literally shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah, will last up to four months. US President Barack Obama discussed the talks in a twenty-minute conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.