A day after the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in some 16 months, a senior Palestinian official on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the talks, while Israeli sources urged everyone to give the new diplomatic channel a chance.
Mahmoud al-Aloul, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, said Wednesday that the meeting in Amman between chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho was very disappointing for “us and the Jordanians.”
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“The Palestinian leadership has spared no effort to seek peace and has complied with all [peace] initiatives,” al-Aloul, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said in a speech on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. “But all our efforts have been in vain.”
Al-Aloul claimed that Molcho came to the meeting, which was held under the auspices of the Quartet, empty-handed and without new ideas.
“The Israelis are not prepared for any solutions,” he charged.
Israeli officials, on the other hand, were reticent to speak about the talks, with one government official saying Jerusalem would honor an agreement reached during the meeting – that neither side would discuss the negotiations – and that the Jordanians would act as spokesmen.
Presented with al-Aloul’s comments, however, the official said it was incumbent upon all parties to take the “right steps” in the beginning of the process.
“The process is new, it is fragile, and it is easy to throw a spanner in the works,” he said. “We hope that no one will do that, that people will act responsibly and give it a chance.”
Erekat, meanwhile, denied an Israel Radio report that the two sides had agreed to hold another meeting in Amman on Friday.
However, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the PA, said that the two parties would continue to hold “exploratory” meetings until the end of January to discuss ways of resuming the diplomatic process. Further talks are expected in Jordan next week.
Al-Aloul expressed hope that the year 2012 would see the eruption of a “popular resistance” against Israel.
“We can’t restrain ourselves any longer in the face of settlement construction,” al-Aloul said. “The popular resistance will erupt in the next phase.”
He added that Fatah “was born to stay and triumph” and that Abbas had made it clear that the Palestinians wouldn’t accept the continuation of the status quo.
Fatah believes that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to resort to “all forms of resistance against the occupiers.”
PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said that Abbas was facing immense pressure from the Americans and other international parties to return to the direct talks with Israel.
Sha’ath said that Abbas has resisted the pressure and continues to insist that peace negotiations may only resume if Israel meets the conditions of a settlement construction freeze and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a future Palestinian state.