US Secretary of State John Kerry held separate surprise meetings in Jordan on
Monday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as he intensified his efforts to
revive the peace process.
Kerry spoke with Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman,
his third meeting with Abbas since Thursday.
They discussed efforts to
renew direct negotiations, a PA official in Ramallah said.
Kerry also met
in Amman with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and special envoy Yitzhak Molho,
following two meetings he held with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in
Jerusalem on Thursday and again on Friday.
Erekat told the PA’s official
newspaper Al-Ayam that Kerry planned to unveil a peace plan within two
“We expect Kerry to present his plan soon,” Abbas said to Al-Ayam
before his meeting with the US secretary of state.
On Sunday, Kerry
announced a $4 billion monetary plan for investment in private Palestinian
business initiatives, so that the Palestinian economy can become selfsufficient
rather than reliant on donor aid.
As he announced the plan at the
concluding panel of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, he assured Abbas that it
was important to have a diplomatic plan as well.
Abbas also met in Amman
with Russia’s envoy to the Middle East, Sergey Vershinin, briefing him on the
latest developments in Kerry’s efforts to resume peace talks with
President Shimon Peres said on Monday he supported Kerry’s
proposal to help revive the Palestinian economy.
“It was really an
overhaul proposal,” Peres said at the start of his Jerusalem meeting on Sunday
with US Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who chairs the US Senate Foreign
Peres informed Menendez that he had met with
Jordan’s King Abdullah II and with Abbas on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum, telling Abbas that Kerry’s economic plan was revolutionary in its
commitment to increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent within three
Peres told Menendez he believed that the remaining differences
with the Palestinians could be resolved.
But Palestinians remained
skeptical of both Kerry’s economic and diplomatic efforts.
Al-Ayam, “I don’t think there is anything called economic peace or security
peace or political peace. These are intertwined elements and the key to peace
and stability lies in Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967
borders, ending settlement construction and releasing
Abdallah Abdallah, a senior Fatah official, criticized
Kerry’s talk about economic prosperity for the Palestinians.
“We have to
be clear that we don’t want this economic peace,” he said. “We are not animals that only want food. We are a people
struggling for freedom.”
PA officials said that the US secretary of state
still hasn’t presented them with details of his initiative for resuming the
“Kerry is still not prepared to present a new peace
initiative,” Erekat said. He added that the American diplomat had not asked the
Palestinians to extend the window of time in which they had agreed not to pursue
Israel at the International Criminal Court, so as to give Kerry time to restart
“Kerry also hasn’t asked to extend the deadline for resuming
the peace talks, which expires at the end of this month,” Erekat
The PA leadership remains committed to its demand that Israel
accept the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state and
release Palestinian prisoners before the talks are resumed, Erekat
The question now is whether Kerry will be able to persuade
Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines,
Erekat said, something the prime minister has refused to do. Netanyahu has also
rejected past Palestinian demands to halt West Bank settlement activity and
Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel has consistently called on the
Palestinians to hold talks without preconditions.
Kerry has urged both
parties to keep their “eye on the prize,” which is the resumption of talks,
which have been largely frozen since 2008.