Mideast peace talks fall apart, again

JERUSALEM — The Palestinian Authority has all but announced the failure of the latest round of preliminary talks with Israel — talks that were supposed to usher in a new round of actual negotiations.

According to the Palestinians, Israel’s refusal to define and recognize the future Palestinian state is the cause of the aborted talks, which ended Wednesday night after only five meetings. The Palestinians want Israel to agree to the 1967, pre-Six-Day War borders as the basis for renewed negotiations. Israel said that it is willing to continue the dialogue.

More from GlobalPost: Palestinian president says talks with Israel are over

Israeli media outlets are reporting that diplomats close to the Middle East Quartet — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — under whose auspices and prodding the talks have been held, say 11th-hour efforts are underway to try to prevent the collapse of the discussions, but do not appear optimistic about the prospects. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's representative to the talks, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, met for a fifth time yesterday with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Though contacts between Israeli and Palestinian leaders have never been severed, formal talks were last held in 2008, ending with an Israeli proposal to which the Palestinians did not respond. 

The prospect of possibly contentious ongoing talks culminating in a Palestinian state seems to arouse torpor among locals — both Israelis and Palestinians — who are enjoying the fruits of an economic boom, unexpected political stability and a drastic reduction in acts of terror over the past few years. 

More from GlobalPost: Palestine ponders next statehood steps

Last night, restaurants in Ramallah were filled with revelers uninterested in the dry recitation of the news from Amman, and in Jerusalem, movie theaters and the bistros for which the capital is known were similarly occupied. A new café in its first week of operations, Chakra Café, genially refused one patron’s request to turn on the hourly news. “It is not our thing,” said a black t-shirt-clad waiter, shrugging his shoulders. A young Jerusalemite, Gaia Ostrowski, 18, said “It’s not apathy; it’s that no one thinks anything is going to change.”

Ostowski pointed out an age-related proviso:

“The years that people would go out to the streets to demand peace are exactly the years everyone here is serving in the army. When they get out three years later they are just completely sick of the issue of the conflict with the Palestinians and all they want is to spend a year travelling around India.”

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