Kerry pushing series of Abbas, Netanyahu meetings as formula for restarting negotiations

Marathon meetings would allow Abbas to circumvent preconditions.

June 28, 2013 09:46
1 minute read.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to staff from the US Embassy in Kuwait City.

US Secretary of State Kerry fist pump 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

US Secretary of State John Kerry's formula for renewing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians consists of a marathon series of meetings between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, some to be attended by Kerry himself.

Netanyahu has already told the Americans he agrees to the plan, and heavy pressure is now being placed on Abbas to accept the formula.

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The talks would only be considered part of the efforts to renew negotiations, and would not constitute an actual renewal of negotiations themselves. This formula would allow Abbas to circumvent the preconditions to negotiations that he has set and avoid criticism.

The formula calls for Kerry's presence at two of the planned meetings, while the third meeting would be attended by Abbas and Netanyahu alone. It is believed that Netanyahu wants Kerry to be present at some of the meetings in order to prevent Abbas from reneging on agreements, if they will be made, and so that the Americans can bear witness to what the prime minister is offering the Palestinians, if and when the negotiations run into difficulties and the "blame game" between the sides begins.

Kerry is putting all his weight behind the efforts to pressure the sides into launching the series of meetings, which are meant to rebuild trust between the sides as a step to restarting true negotiations.

However, the plan is still in its initial stages and there is no guarantee that it will come to fruition. There is currently no trust between Abbas and Netanyahu, the gaps between them are great and the chances that the contacts will build to meaningful negotiations remain low.

Kerry arrived in Israel on Thursday as part of his efforts to renew negotiations, meeting Netanyahu for almost four hours in Jerusalem. The trip marks the secretary of state's fifth visit to the country since March. He is expected to meet with Abbas in Jordan on Friday.

Israeli officials said Kerry may return to Israel either before Shabbat or on Saturday evening for a follow-up meeting with Netanyahu. The US Embassy announced that he planned a press conference in Amman on Saturday afternoon.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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