Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Israel for the 11th time this year,
this time going directly to Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas in what appears to be an effort to soften him to US
security ideas presented last week to Prime Minister Binyamin
Kerry was accompanied to the meeting by Marine Corps Gen.
(ret.) John Allen, head of a 160-strong US defense and intelligence team that
has drawn up a plan for the day after an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Allen
briefed Netanyahu on the plan last week when he was here with Kerry, and this
will be his first meeting with Abbas.
The Palestinians have come out
against the plan, which is believed to include an Israeli security presence in
the Jordan Valley for an extended period.
Abbas told Sky News Arabia
Television on Thursday that he would not accept a single Israeli soldier on
“If America wants to protect the security of
Israel, they can go there [to the Jordan Valley], but we will not accept Israel
being there,” he said.
A PA official in Ramallah said that Abbas would
reiterate during his meeting with Kerry his opposition to the recent US security
ideas. The official claimed that Kerry has been exerting enormous pressure on
Abbas to accept the US security proposals.
“Kerry has endorsed the
Israeli position on security and borders,” the official
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an Israel Radio
interview, however, that Israel must retain its security in its own hands. He
said that although he understood this would be “hard for the Palestinians to
swallow,” they would have to accept that “Israel has security interests it
cannot forgo, and if they want peace, they must make significant
Unlike previous trips here, when the pattern has been that
Kerry first meets with Netanyahu, then goes to Abbas, and returns for a
follow-up meeting with the prime minister, this time the meeting with Netanyahu
will take place on Friday after Kerry meets with Abbas.
Kerry is also
scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres Friday, before leaving for Vietnam
and the Philippines.
One of the ideas that Kerry brought with him was of
a marathon negotiating summit to draw up a framework that would enable a
continuation of the talks that have been taking place since late July, Channel 2
reported. The thinking, according to the report, is that to create a
breakthrough in the talks, there is a need to bring matters to the leadership
level for decisions.
US President Barack Obama said last week at the
Saban Forum in Washington that it was possible “over the next several months to
arrive at a framework that does not address every single detail, but gets us to
a point where everybody recognizes [it is] better to move forward than move
Abbas, however, said in the Sky News Arabia Television that a
framework accord could delay a full resolution of the conflict.
not accept an interim deal. We will accept a final agreement that can be
implemented in stages,” he said.
Obama said on Saturday that the
Palestinians would have to “recognize that there is going to be a transition
period where the Israeli people cannot expect a replica of Gaza in the West
This transition period would require “some restraint on the part
of the Palestinians,” he said.
“They don’t get everything that they want
on day one.”
Abbas said that the PA’s main goal was to reach a deal with
security and clear borders, where Jerusalem would be the capital of the future
Palestinian state. “We can’t accept any agreement that does not include
Jerusalem as our capital,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.