WASHINGTON – A framework for the continuation of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians does not yet exist, the US confirmed on Friday. But should an agreement be reached, it said, the parties are reserving the right to keep some of its details secret from the public.
“We’ll cross that entire bridge when we get to it,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. “I expect there would be something that would be public if the sides agree to a framework.”
Psaki spoke on the issue just after Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Aqaba, Jordan, to meet with its king on a wide range of regional issues, the Middle East peace process among them.
Kerry’s spokeswoman was also pressed to address recent comments made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he said there was “no way” he would recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
The PLO will “not accept Israel’s demands to recognize it as a Jewish state despite pressure put on us,” he told a group of Fatah-affiliated student activists.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a “minimal requirement for peace” between the two parties. He repeated that demand in his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House this week, and in his speech the following day to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Asked whether the US considers such recognition to be a precondition in the negotiations, Psaki declined to comment. But she did reiterate America’s longstanding position on the matter.
“That’s been our position, as you know, for a long time,” Psaki said. “That Israel is a Jewish state. That doesn’t reflect, of course, what the parties are going to agree to.... We’re talking about a discussion and what’s being compromised as part of a discussion on a framework for negotiations.”