December 01, 2006

Impasse on Palestinian Unity Government Freezes Peace Initiative

From Impasse on Palestinian Unity Government Freezes Peace Initiative:

Talks to form a Palestinian unity government are at a dead end, Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday, ensuring that the Bush administration's plan to start pushing hard for a Middle East peace initiative will stay in a deep freeze for now. Abbas gave his grim assessment about the state of talks between his Fatah faction and Hamas, the militant faction that controls the Palestinian government, after a one-hour meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jericho, in the West Bank. American officials said they had hoped to use this trip to build on the fragile Gaza cease-fire reached Saturday between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and perhaps to start a Middle East peace initiative. That hope was bolstered Monday after Mr. Olmert offered to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier and said he was reaching out "for peace." But chances for a new initiative evaporated Wednesday after the Hamas leader, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, took off on a month-long trip to visit Arab allies, a clear indication that the unity talks between Hamas and Fatah had reached an impasse.