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U.S. involvement is key for the creation of multilateral Middle East peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for multilateral talks to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority has been signaling that it might seek a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activities in occupied territories.

With this signal, the Palestinians hope to pressure the United States and Israel, and encourage them to participate in multilateral talks. But it remains to be seen to what extent the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama would engage.

Since last October, there have been continued attacks against Israelis by Palestinian youth in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Some diplomatic sources say there is a measure of support for this violence among members of the Palestinian public. However, the Palestinian Authority maintains a line of cooperation in security with Israel's security authorities.

The Japanese government welcomes Abbas' "strong determination to stay on the path of promoting peace and maintaining a policy of nonviolence, regardless of the risks emanating from internal politics," a Japanese government official commented.

But peace negotiations with Israel have been stalled since the spring of 2014. Abbas is hoping to see some sort of external pressure to move forward, such as multilateral talks that would involve Arab countries playing a key role, as well as the promotion of a resolution on Jewish settlements at the U.N. Security Council.

The November 2007 Annapolis Conference cited by Abbas as a model for multilateral talks was hosted by then President George W. Bush. The participating parties aimed to reach an agreement by the end of Bush's term. The conference saw the establishment of a coordination committee involving both sides, which monitored the process of negotiations, facilitated the meeting of leaders of both sides and promoted immediate negotiations.

At this point, U.S. government support is needed for Israeli involvement in such multilateral talks. According to some diplomatic sources, the Palestinian Authority wants to see involvement of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members, but it remains to be seen if the U.S. will get seriously involved.

Abbas accepted an initiative by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in January to hold an international peace conference to promote the Middle East peace process, and started discussions with the French. However, the French government also mentioned the possibility of recognizing Palestine as a state, if these efforts fail. Israel had criticized that point.

If the framework of the multilateral talks turns out to be similar to that of the Annapolis Conference, Israel would find it easier to participate. But in order to achieve this, it would be essential to see the United States deeply involved. (By Tomoko Ohji, Jerusalem Bureau)

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