WASHINGTON – PLO Ambassador to the US Maen Areikat maintained high hopes and low
expectations for renewed peace talks between Palestinians and Israel in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
Areikat’s comments came as
US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to arrive in the region on his push to
renew negotiations between the two parties.
In the discussion, Areikat
cast doubt on the intentions of Israel’s leadership to genuinely engage in
dialogue – and on the prospects that Palestinian preconditions could reasonably
“We have not reached the point where we can say that we, the
Palestinians, are satisfied with the progress of these discussions,” Areikat
told the Post, adding that he does not underestimate Kerry’s
Areikat said that the Palestinians had made clear to Kerry that
they will not begin negotiations without clarified terms of reference – actions
taken by the Israelis that demonstrate they will respect the pre-1967 lines with
minor swaps, that settlement building has truly frozen and that Palestinian
prisoners will be released.
“Nothing has emerged from these meetings for
the American side to be able to announce that the two sides accepted to engage
politically,” Areikat explained. “There is a lot of zeal, a lot of focus and
commitment by the secretary of state that many Israelis and Palestinians, and
even Americans are saying...
Are there some concrete results to build on
as a result of all these meetings?” Kerry has visited the region more times
since taking office last February than his predecessor Hillary Clinton did in
four years as secretary of state. But while Kerry has made no secret of his interest in resolving the conflict, officials and experts
who have followed the peace process for years have questioned his
Areikat described the talks as exceptionally private, and the
circle of people who know their details as notably small.
intentional that these discussions are being held in a more private manner than
before,” Areikat said. “A large percentage of these discussions are being
conducted directly between the secretary of state and President [Mahmoud] Abbas,
and Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu.”
Areikat said the Israeli
government is doing “all it can to destroy the two-state solution,” and that
even if the parties return to negotiations, he does not believe Netanyahu will
genuinely engage to put an end to the conflict.
“I think they believe
that time is on their side, and that the longer they defer the resolution of the
conflict, the better off the conditions and the position of Israel for any
future engagement,” he said.
Areikat, who was educated in the United
States, worked in the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations department for a
decade and led the department in 2008. He has been ambassador to the US since
“We cannot continue to fool our people and tell them that something
is going to come out as a result of these deliberations and discussions, when
the Israelis are not doing anything to indicate their willingness to accommodate
a Palestinian state next to Israel,” Areikat said.