Efforts to advance the peace process in behind-the-scenes meetings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were halted to give a chance to the new Quartet peace proposal to succeed, President Shimon Peres said in an interview with the pan-Arabic daily Alsharq Alawsat published on Friday.
Peres said in the interview that his meetings with PA President Mahmoud Abbas had been in full coordination with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He surmised that this diplomatic channel, put on hold in September when the Quartet announced its new plan to advance the peace process, may continue in two weeks time when the Quartet proposal is set to expire.
Israel: PA dodging direct talks by negotiating via Quartet
PA rejects direct talks with Israel
A PA official said in August that Peres and Abbas had met four times secretly in Amman and London, but that Netanyahu thwarted the diplomatic channel. Peres denied that the diplomatic channel with Abbas was halted at Netanyahu's urging.
The Quartet issued a framework for getting back to talks on September 23 when Abbas went to the UN to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. That framework called for an initial meeting between the two sides within 30 days, leading to the trading of comprehensive proposals on security and territory within three months, and an overall agreement by the end of 2012. Peres said that Netanyahu wanted to give the Quartet proposal a chance, and therefore he ceased his meetings with Abbas.
The Quartet plan has failed to bear fruit and Peres told Asharq Alawsat
that his channel with Abbas may resume after the Quartet deadline passes on January 14.
president said that he does not believe that indirect contact between
Israel and the Palestinians, mediated by the Quartet, can serve as a
substitute for direct talks between the sides.
Peres said that
communication with the PA was not completely cut off, but it was
seriously slowed in the wake of the Quartet proposal. He said that
behind-the-scenes talks would increase after the Quartet deadline
Peres stated that Netanayhu wants peace, but does not
have as much faith as he does that negotiations between the sides can
"He has different considerations to make within his
coalition, but he knows that there is no substitute for peace. Peace
brings prosperity," the president stated.