Blame game begins after Middle East talks fail again

Palestinian negotiators yesterday blamed Israel – and to a lesser extent the US – for the latest serious setback for efforts to reach a peace deal while Israeli officials insisted they would nevertheless try hard to achieve an agreement.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared sanguine about Washington ending its attempts to persuade it to agree a second moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank.

But the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who had demanded such a freeze as the price of resuming direct negotiations, said there was no doubt the political process now faced "a difficult crisis".

As diplomats in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv mulled over US intentions after its abandonment of the strategy that has driven its peacemaking efforts for the last 18 months, the Israeli security cabinet announced, in a separate move, a new easing of the three-year-old blockade of Gaza by allowing the economically stricken territory to resume some exports. Tony Blair, who as envoy for the Middle East Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia, had pressed for the relaxation on Gaza exports, said that it was an "important step" towards revitalisation of the economy which would "help strengthen the legitimate private sector and alleviate some of the hardship faced by [Gaza] businessmen".

At the same time Mr Blair added: "There is, of course, still much more to do for the people of Gaza, not least in the area of construction, water and power and we will continue to move forward on these issues."

The most optimistic interpretation of the US decision on peace negotiations was that the parties would now be able to concentrate on the substantive issues between the two sides – possibly in resumed indirect talks – rather than the issue of current settlement building.

But Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Mr Abbas, said of the US: "The one who couldn't make Israel limit its settlement activities in order to conduct serious negotiations, how can he be able to make Israel accept a fair solution?"

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said that as a next step, the Palestinians would ask the international community to recognise a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. He suggested that a nod from the Americans for this strategy – which the US has so far shown no sign of giving – was essential for getting negotiations back on track.

Ron Dermer, political adviser to Mr Netanyahu, said that the United States "came to the conclusion that the path [of seeking a settlement freeze] in the end was not bringing results". Instead, Israel was now building a new route back to the talks together with the Americans.

Meanwhile Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel's decision to end the Gaza export ban was "deceiving" because Israel still prevents many raw materials, those ones for construction, from reaching Gaza businesses.

But Omar Shaban, an independent Gaza-based economist said that the territory would greatly benefit from exports of Gaza's main industries of textiles, agriculture and furniture.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there