Abbas rejects most of Kerry's points on peace deal
PA president tells U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that proposal looks like "a plan drafted by Israel" • Channel 2 news reports new U.S. plan is being devised to host a three-way summit and have a negotiating marathon to secure a final agreement.
Shlomo Cesana, Daniel Siryoti and Yoni Hirsch
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) at Ben Gurion Airport, Thursday night
Photo credit: Reuters
One day after celebrating his 70th birthday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel on Thursday. As a result of the inclement weather in Jerusalem, Kerry's meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres were postponed to Friday. Kerry did meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday night in Ramallah.
Kerry and Abbas discussed the current peace talks with Israel and the U.S.-drafted interim deal proposal, to which the Palestinians had already announced their opposition. Kerry and Abbas are expected to meet again on Friday, and next week Kerry is set to meet with the foreign ministers of the Arab League nations to brief them on the negotiations.
"Before meeting with Kerry, Abbas told Jordanian King Abdullah II that he intends to reject most of the points suggested in the American proposal," a senior Palestinian official told Israel Hayom. The official said the meeting between Abbas and Kerry was tense, and that during the meeting Abbas said "this looks like a plan drafted by Israel." According to the official, Abbas threatened that if the third phase of Palestinian prisoner release -- pledged to the PA ahead of the resumption of the peace talks in August -- is delayed, the Palestinians will see themselves free to take unilateral steps through international organizations. The Palestinians agreed, as one of the pre-conditions for the peace talks, not to take such unilateral action.
Abbas spoke to reporters after his meeting and said a time extension may be considered. "We may decide to extend the current round of talks by one month, beyond the nine months originally allotted, but we will not agree to anything more than that. All talk about an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley is nonsense, because so long as there is an occupation army presence on Palestinian lands there will be no solution, and all settlements must be cleared off of Palestinian territory. With regards to an interim deal, Abbas said "we are not ruling out implementing a final agreement in stages, but we will never accept a partial or interim deal."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has remained mum regarding the negotiations, but according to a Channel 2 news report Thursday night, the Americans are planning a new initiative to propel the talks by hosting a three-way summit in an attempt to secure a final agreement.
While in Israel there is talk of the negotiations reaching a dead end, the U.S. continues to be optimistic. According to two American officials Thursday night, the U.S. hopes to secure the framework of a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of April. The framework, they told the Associated Press, would include all the core issues but will not be as specific as the final agreement. If such a deal is struck, talks would continue to secure a final accord over a period of six months to a year.