Jerusalem hopes the Palestinians are not looking for an excuse to leave direct
negotiations just two weeks after they began, an Israeli government official
He was responding to a report in the London-based Al-Hayat
newspaper asserting the Palestinians are considering ending the talks in Jordan
and searching for alternatives.
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According to the report, the Palestinians
were considering a number of different steps, including turning to the UN and
asking it to demand an end to construction in the settlements.
envoy Yitzhak Molcho and chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat met Saturday night at
the headquarters of the Jordanian General Intelligence Department in Amman for
the third round of Jordanian- sponsored talks since January 3. For the first
time, neither representatives of Jordan nor the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and
Russia – participated in these talks.Al-Hayat
quoted a senior
Palestinian official as saying there would be only one more meeting between the
two sides, on January 25.
The official said the planned meeting would be
decisive because it would determine whether the two parties would be able to
move to direct negotiations or declare the failure of the Amman
The Palestinians say January 26 is a deadline imposed by the
Quartet on the two sides last September to present comprehensive proposals on
border and security issues.
The Palestinians have already presented their
Israel, however, maintains January 26 is not a deadline, and
the Quartet said in its September statement outlining a path to renewing the
talks that the two sides needed to present their proposals 90 days after direct
“It is not logical to think that we could solve all these
issues and present proposals 21 days after the talks began,” one Israeli
government official said. The official said Israel was more than willing to
present its proposals after 90 days, although he would not say whether this
included a willingness to present the Palestinians a map of where precisely
Israel wanted to draw the borders of a future Palestinian state.
official in Ramallah said the US Administration and some EU governments were
putting heavy pressure on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to continue the talks with
Israel after January 26.
He said American and European government
officials have told Abbas the Quartet deadline clock started only when the
Israelis and Palestinians began their talks in Amman two weeks ago.
they are telling us that the deadline expires in March.” he said.
Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official, announced Sunday the Palestinians would not
agree to hold further talks with Israel after January 26 “because the Israeli
government is not serious about moving the peace process forward.”
claimed the Israeli government was afraid of achieving progress with the
Palestinians because of upcoming elections in Israel.
are not scheduled until late 2013, and despite a great deal of political
maneuvering in recent weeks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not given any
indication he intends on calling them early.
According to the Palestinian
official quoted in Al- Hayat
, Abbas is now in the process of seeking
international assistance in exerting pressure on Israel to freeze construction
in the settlements and east Jerusalem.
“Settlements will be at the core
of the upcoming Palestinian diplomatic offensive because they undermine the
foundations of the two-state solution,” the Palestinian official
Israeli officials said it was not clear whether the Palestinians,
as they have threatened, would indeed return to efforts to seek statehood
recognition at the UN, or take other unilateral steps in various international
“The Palestinians have a history of brinkmanship,” one official
said. “But I would remind you that if the Palestinians take unilateral steps,
Israel has options on that track as well.”
Following the Palestinian
success in gaining acceptance in UNESCO in October, Israel declared it was
expediting the construction of 2,000 new units in east Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim
and Gush Etzion, and cutting off the transfer of tax payments it collects on
behalf of the PA.