U.S. diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale arrived in Israel Thursday morning in a renewed attempt to revive stagnated peace talks.
According to a statement issued by the prime minister's office, Ross, a senior adviser to U.S President Barack Obama, and Hale, deputy to Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, will be discussing Israel's security needs and the importance of maintaining the Israel Defense Forces' qualitative advantage during negotiations with the Palestinians and in any proposed peace deal.
Ross and Hale arrived a day after Arab nations submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A vote on the resolution is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto, diplomats said on Wednesday.
The point of the resolution, diplomats say, is to highlight Washington's isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.
Council diplomats said privately that the 15-nation panel was unlikely to take any action on the draft resolution in the near future - if at all - because of the likely veto.
Intensive U.S. diplomatic efforts to revive direct peace talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed last year after Israel failed to extend a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction.
Israel has repeatedly called for a resumption of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel first agrees to halt settlement work.
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