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Who Speaks for the Palestinians?

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
April 28, 2010
Weekly Standard

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Will proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority soon begin? While both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas have said they hope so, the matter is no longer in the hands of the Palestinians but in those of the Arab League foreign ministers--who meet May 1.

Two stories this week in Haaretz, the Israeli daily, make this clear. The first story recounts an interview Abbas gave Israeli TV, and notes that “Abbas said he hopes to get Arab League approval for indirect talks on May 1.” The second story recycles an item from the newspaper Al-Watan in Damascus, and begins this way: “The Arab League is expected to reject the Obama administration's proposal to begin indirect Middle East peace negotiations in the coming weeks, sources from the 22-state body told Syria's Al-Watan daily on Tuesday. The League's Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative is scheduled to meet on Saturday to vote on the proposal, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to accept any offer for peace talks that does not meet the panel's approval.”

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