Middle East Inside Line: Preliminary Proximity Talks, "Strategic Advantage" of Israel's Nukes, Fatah-Hamas Tension
Mitchell is to go to Ramallah on Friday, meeting the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The official announcement of the beginning of indirect talks is awaiting approval by the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee. It is expected by Saturday.
Israel's "Strategic Advantage": The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, has asked member states to share views on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to IAEA oversight.
An Israeli official on Thursday responded by defendeing the country's "opaque" policy on its nuclear program as a "strategic advantage". He added that Israel would not sign the NPT until a comprehensive Arab-Israel peace deal is in place, as the treaty in itself is "not successful" in preventing countries such as Saddam Husein's Iraq or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Fatah-Hamas Tension: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused the rival Hamas movement of smuggling weapons into the West Bank. In an interview with the London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat, he said:
On the one hand, the organization is punishing those who launch rockets in Gaza, while at the same time it hoards weapons in the West Bank.