Israel is not opposed in principle to an American bridging proposal aimed at
overcoming an impasse in talks with the Palestinians if it ensures Israel’s
security and a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, government
officials said Monday.
The comments came on the eve of US Secretary of
State John Kerry’s expected arrival here on Tuesday evening amid an atmosphere
of mini crisis in the talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
told Fatah leaders Monday that the negotiations have not borne any fruit, and
warned that the talks may explode. He also said he would not agree to an Israeli
security presence in the Jordan Valley, or recognize Israel as a Jewish
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in an interview with i24 news,
referred to what he has called the “artificial crisis” created by the
Palestinians as a result of Israel’s announcement of construction in east
Jerusalem and the settlements following last week’s release of security
“If they can’t even stand behind the agreements that we had,
that we release prisoners but we continue building, then how can I see that they
will actually stand by the larger issues that will require them far greater
confrontation with received opinion and fixed positions in their society,” he
said. “If you want to lead, stand up.”
Netanyahu’s spokesmen have said
repeatedly in recent days that both the Palestinians and the Americans knew that
the release of Palestinian prisoners, as was done last week, would be
accompanied by announcements of building in east Jerusalem and the
Even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, opposed to these
announcements at the time, said categorically in an Israel Radio interview on
Monday that these announcements were not in violation of any obligation Israel
took upon itself when entering the talks with the Palestinians in late
Meanwhile, Meretz head Zehava Gal-On released a statement saying
the Americans were moving from a status of mediator to that of full facilitator,
and would put forward their own diplomatic plan in early 2014.
Baruch, Gal-On’s policy adviser, said this was the impression the two of them
received from recent meetings with US, Palestinian and Egyptian officials.
According to the statement, the US plan will include all the core issues and be
based on the June 4, 1967, lines, with agreed-upon land swaps.
to Gal-On, the Americans are convinced both Netanyahu and Abbas have the
political capital needed to bring about an agreement.
skepticism on both sides, she said, would help the US intervene in the process
when it hits a crisis point. She said a draft could be put forward in January,
and that it would not be for an interim agreement, but rather for the gradual
implementation of a comprehensive accord.
Kerry, meanwhile, denied the US
was planning to put forward any plan of its own, saying during a press
conference in Saudi Arabia that beyond the direct discussions and talks between
the US, Israeli and Palestinian leaders, “there is no other plan at this point
Government officials said that while Netanyahu was not in
principle opposed to a US plan, he “reserved the right to stand up for what he
believes are Israel’s interests, and will not compromise on vital security and
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials said on Monday that
they did not expect Kerry to carry new ideas to achieve progress in the peace
talks with Israel when he arrives. He is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu and
Abbas separately on Wednesday.
Speaking on the eve of Kerry’s visit to
the region, the officials said that the talks, which resumed three months ago,
have not produced anything.
They said that Kerry’s main mission in the
region was to make a last-minute attempt to prevent the collapse of the peace
“We don’t believe that Kerry is carrying with him anything
new,” said PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo. “All he will do is repeat
All indications point to continued deterioration,
Abed Rabbo said.
“There has been no improvement in the situation,” he
said, referring to the previous 14 rounds of talks. “All what is happening on
the ground shows that, in reality, there is no real peace process. The Israelis
have no intention to proceed with the political process.”
Minister Riad Malki also sounded a note of pessimism regarding the prospects of
“So far, there are no positive signs from Israel,” Malki
said during a meeting in Ramallah with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz
Malki accused the government of working toward thwarting
international efforts to achieve peace with Palestinians by pushing settlement
construction, “assassinations and house demolitions.”
Malki stressed, remain committed to the peace talks with Israel on the basis of
a two-state solution on the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as their
capital. The Palestinians are also committed to the nine-month timetable set by
the Americans for the peace talks, he added.
Mahmoud Aloul, a member of
the Fatah Central Committee, repeated Palestinian threats to walk out of the
peace talks “if nothing changes.”
Aloul told the London-based Al-Quds
Al-Arabi newspaper that the PA leadership has decided to adopt a “tougher
policy” to face Israeli “violations” of the peace process.
He said Abbas
will make clear to Kerry that it would be impossible to continue with the
negotiations “in wake of the Judaization of Jerusalem and house demolitions, as
well as the increase in settlement construction and daily killings and
Aloul announced that the PA leadership has not abandoned the
option of pulling out of the peace talks in protest against Israeli policies and
He expressed hope that the toughening of the PA leadership’s
stance would prompt the US administration to exert pressure on
“Israel has so far not come forward with any positive initiative
to achieve a solution, especially with regards to the issues of security and
borders,” Aloul said.
Israel’s demand to retain control over the Jordan
Valley means that the future independent Palestinian state would not have any
borders with Jordan, he said.
The Palestinians want the US administration
to hold Israel responsible for the failure of the peace talks, the Fatah
“Kerry decided to visit the region after realizing how
difficult the situation is and out of fear that the talks would collapse,” he
The meeting between Abbas and Kerry comes amid growing pressure on
the PA president to pull out of the negotiations.
Tayseer Khaled, a
senior PLO official, criticized the PA leadership for pursuing a “failed”
approach in the talks with Israel.
He said that although the two sides
have held 14 rounds of talks, “we still haven’t seen any positive development on
Israel hasn’t and won’t present anything positive to help
move the peace process forward, Khaled said.
“Israel is exploiting the
negotiations to escalate its suffocation of the Palestinians and steal their
rights,” he charged, calling on the PA leadership to immediately walk out of the
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also appealed to
the PA to halt the talks with Israel.
Kayed al-Ghul, a top PFLP official,
accused the US administration of putting pressure on Abbas to continue with the
“failed” talks that, he said, pose a grave danger to the Palestinian
“The Palestinian Authority won’t gain anything from the talks with
the occupation,” Ghul said.