Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior Palestinian spokesmen doused
any optimism on Monday that the US-led Israeli- Palestinian talks were on the
verge of a breakthrough.
Israel was not on the way to a final-status
agreement with the Palestinians initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry,
Prime Minister Netanyahu told his Likud Beytenu faction at the Knesset on
Kerry fueled some of the sudden buoyancy about the diplomatic
process, expressing optimism about progress in a speech Saturday at the Saban
Forum in Washington.
Kerry’s scheduled return to the region on Wednesday for another round of talks, so soon after meeting here three times with
Netanyahu and once with Abbas last Thursday and Friday, has also fueled
speculation that something was moving.
The thrust of Kerry’s efforts now,
according to diplomatic officials, centers on security “ideas” that the US has
put on the table for the day after the establishment of a Palestinian
According to the officials, these ideas – drawn up by a US team
headed by retired General John Allen – are designed to provide solutions to
Israel’s security concerns if it withdraws from parts of the West
The ideas are believed to deal with everything from control of
airspace, to satellite surveillance, to security control of the Jordan
MKs said that Netanyahu, in the closed-door faction meeting,
rejected the security plan, saying it was important to maintain Israeli, not
American, forces on the border with Jordan.
“We need to be there in the
Jordan Valley,” a minister close to Netanyahu said. “Jihadist elements are there
and we cannot have that on our border.
When we left Abbas in charge of
Gaza, we saw how long he lasted.”
The minister mocked the American
proposal for relying on hi-tech security arrangements.
“Technology is not
enough to fight terror,” he said. “It can’t be stopped just with sensors and
On the Palestinian side, PLO secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo
derided the security plan, telling the Voice of Palestine radio station that
Kerry was trying to “appease Israel by fulfilling its expansionist demands in
the Jordan Valley under the pretext of security.”
He also accused Kerry
of backing Israel’s “expansionist ambitions of settlement activities in
Jerusalem and the West Bank,” and said the secretary of state was to blame for
the current crisis in the peace talks.
Abed Rabbo claimed that Kerry was
trying to “buy Israeli silence” over the recent nuclear deal between Iran and
the six big powers.
“Kerry is trying to achieve an imaginary success on
the Israeli-Palestinian track at our expense,” he added.
Abed Rabbo also
accused Kerry of endorsing a “disparaging” attitude in his dealings with the
Palestinians. The US, he continued, should appease Israel at the expense of its
own interests and not those of the Palestinians.
spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh reiterated that there would be no agreement with
Israel without the release of Palestinian prisoners
announcement came in response to a report in Ma’ariv, according to which Kerry
had threatened the Palestinians that the release of prisoners, slated for later
this month, would be postponed.
“We won’t accept any delay in the release
of prisoners,” Abu Rudaineh said. “Also, there will be no peace without