WASHINGTON -- The Obama Administration is trying to jump start the stalled Mideast Peace negotiations after a setback last week that ended efforts to pressure Israel into a settlement freeze.
George Mitchell, U.S. envoy to the Mideast, arrived in the region Monday with hopes the two sides will look past that issue and continue to talk, even if it means the three parties don't sit and speak directly.
After two months of negotiating the U.S. failed to convince Israel to keep in place a moratorium on settlement construction. U.S. Proposals went as far as generous military arms package.
"We're not discouraged," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday. "We realize, when one way is blocked, we're going to seek another, and we're not going to lose hope. Neither should the people of the region."
However on Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed frustrated that the talks were sidelined by the reoccurring settlement dispute. "It is no secret that the parties have a long way to go and that they have not yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires," she said in a dinner speech sponsored by the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington D.C. "And like many of you, I regret that we have not gotten farther, faster."
Clinton said that to make any progress, both sides need to return to focusing on core issues like border lines and security. "Going forward, they must take responsibility and make the difficult decisions that peace requires. This begins with a sincere effort to see the world through the other side's eyes, to try to understand their perspective and positions. Palestinians must appreciate Israel's legitimate security concerns. And Israelis must accept the legitimate territorial aspirations of the Palestinian people. Ignoring the other side's needs is in the end self-defeating."
Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, was in Washington today for meetings with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Pentagon released a statement Monday afternoon after the meeting with Gates. "This was their sixth meeting this year and today's talks touched on everything from the recent wildfires in Israel to ongoing peace process efforts to the challenges posed by Iran."