PA president Abbas, Jordan King Abdullah II_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas sparred long distance Wednesday over Israel’s security needs, even as
their envoys were scheduled to meet in the evening to try and lay the groundwork
for substantive negotiations.
Abbas, speaking with reporters after
meeting in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the morning, said he was
prepared to listen to Israeli demands regarding security issues “on condition
that no Israeli is allowed to stay on Palestinian territory.”
Hamas calls for PA to walk away from Jordan talks
Analysis: Jordan takes center stage in Israel-PA talks
A few hours
later, during a speech to the Knesset, Netanyahu said any possible agreement
will have to take into account the dramatic events in the region, the speed with
which Middle East reality is changing and the growing threats to
“Israel needs a very strong layer of security arrangements on the
ground in any future agreement,” he said. The prime minister has said in the
past on numerous occasions that Israel would have to retain a security presence
in the Jordan Valley to provide a buffer between the West Bank and
Ma’ariv reported Wednesday that at the talks between Israeli
negotiator Yitzhak Molcho and his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat Saturday
night in Amman, Erekat refused to listen to Brig-Gen. Assaf Orion, head of the
strategic unit of the IDF’s Planning Branch, give a presentation on Israel’s
The Palestinians first want to talk about border
issues, and are claiming Israel is dragging its feet presenting its proposals on
Abbas said in Amman that Israel’s refusal to recognize the
borders of a future Palestinian state was one of the obstacles to the resumption
of peace negotiations between the two sides, but that Israeli settlement
construction and “crimes” were the biggest obstacle.
Abdullah urged Abbas
to continue the current Israeli-Palestinian talks after Thursday, a PA official
in Ramallah said.
That is the day when – according to the Palestinian
interpretation – a three-month deadline set by the Quartet for both sides to
present comprehensive proposals on security and border issues expires. Israel
believes that the deadline does not expire until early April.
that he would agree to return to the negotiating table once Israel recognized
the borders of the Palestinian state.
The PA has conditioned the
resumption of the diplomatic process on Israeli acceptance of the pre-1967 lines
as the basis for a two-state solution, and a full cessation of construction in
settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
“If we agree on the
borders, we would be able to return to the negotiations,” Abbas said. “But the
Israelis don’t want to define the borders.”
Hailing Jordan’s role in
hosting the current round of Israeli-Palestinian talks, Abbas said that he would
assess the PA’s next steps after Wednesday evening’s scheduled
Meanwhile, in the Knesset, Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to
continue the talks. Also praising Abdullah for his sponsorship of the
discussions, Netanyahu said he “hopes the Palestinians understand that their
interests are in continuing the discussions, because only through talks and
negotiations will it be possible to make progress on ending the
Netanyahu met visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton Wednesday evening and discussed both the diplomatic process with the
Palestinians and the EU decision to ratchet up sanctions against Iran. She is
scheduled to meet Abbas on Thursday, and is widely expected to urge him not to
quit the Amman talks.