| Updated at: 1435 PST, Wednesday, September 15, 2010|
SHARM AL SHAIKH: Palestinians see the process of recently jump-started direct Israel-Palestine negotiations as heading nowhere, if the Zionist plans regarding new settlements are commenced, Geo News reported Wednesday.
Palestinians said the negotiations would be left halfway if the plans of new Jewish settlements were started.
The Egyptian Red Sea coast once again provides the setting for efforts to coax along Middle East peacemaking but Egypt's power to shape the outcome is much diminished.
A mural on the highway entering Sharm Al Shaikh depicts the 1995 "Summit of Peacemakers" and offers a reminder of one of the initiatives staged in this Red Sea resort that withered in the heat of the Middle East conflict.
There were few expectations it will be any different on Tuesday. Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace deal with Israel, has little ability to cajole the two sides into any deal.
"No party other than the United States can play the role of sponsor. It is a superpower with the ability to impose solutions to the conflict and pressure both parties to agree," said Mohammad Bassiouny, the former Egyptian ambassador to Israel.
Palestinians say the colonies, built on land they want for a state, would deny them a viable and contiguous country.
"We are all striving to bring the message to Netanyahu that the settlements [colony] issue is important to negotiations and for us there cannot be any talks on ending occupation while occupation is deepening," Palestinian negotiator Nabeel Shaath said.
Dr. Nabeel Sha’ath, from the Palestinian delegation in Sharm Al Sheikh, told reports that the Palestinians still demand a total construction freeze in West Bank settlement to continue talks.
"It is symbolic recognition of Egypt's role in the Middle East peace process. But its role is now diminished to being an essential supporter of peace talks," said Nabeel Abdul Fattah at the Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies.
"It [Cairo] cannot force either of the two parties to reach an agreement," he added.
There are daunting obstacles ahead in these talks, including deep-seated differences between Israelis and Palestinians about Israel's colony building.