Mitchell urges 'responsibility' as peace talks close

George Mitchell

George Mitchell

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Sharm el-Sheikh have ended without agreement on the future construction of Jewish settlements.

However US envoy George Mitchell, who attended today’s talks, said that “the parties have begun a serious discussion on core issues" and that the framework of a deal within a year was still possible.

He added: "President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu also reiterated their intent to approach these negotiations in good faith and with a seriousness of purpose."

Mr Mitchell called for Israel to extend the “politically sensitive” ten-month building freeze in the West Bank, due to expire at the end of September.

He said: “We believe both sides have a responsibility to help ensure that these talks continue in a constructive manner".

However, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the progress of the talks was not only up to Israel.

Mr Regev said: "If expectations are that only Israel should make concessions, then that is not a recipe for a successful conclusion.

"The way to an agreement is to look at all the core issues together, not to run away from any one of them.”

Following the initial talks, the second stage in the resurrected Middle East peace process, Hillary Clinton held an unplanned meeting with Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas.

The talks will continue tomorrow in Jerusalem.

Last updated: 3:49pm, September 14 2010