Palestinians not thrilled with Kerry either

The US and Palestinian leaderships see eye to eye on settlements, but they are divided on a number of the remaining final-status issues.

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December 30, 2016 02:45
2 minute read.
Kerry and Erekat

Kerry and Erekat . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Palestinian reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution critical of settlements last week was overwhelmingly positive.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas told attendees of a Christmas dinner in Bethlehem on Saturday that “[we] thank the United States for its position... what its delegate said at the Security Council was an expression of support and we understand their neutral position.”

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In the subsequent days, other leaders from Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the rest of the Palestinian factions followed suit, praising the US for allowing the resolution to pass.

However, Palestinian reaction to Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday, in which he laid out parameters for resolving the conflict, has been interpreted as cold and in many instances critical, demonstrating clear policy differences between the US and Palestinian leaderships on a number of final status issues.
John Kerry lays out Mideast peace vision

Following Kerry’s speech, Abbas waited more than an hour to issue a response and did not comment on the parameters that Kerry proposed, making plain that he has no intention of endorsing them but also that he wanted to avoid public conflict with the outgoing US administration.

Nonetheless, what Abbas did not say, a number of other Palestinian leaders made obvious in their statements.

The message was clear: We do not agree with your parameters.

“It is not possible for us to work with the selective proposal to recognize a Jewish state,” Riyad al-Maliki, the PA foreign minister, told Palestinian news outlet Maan on Wednesday.

He said it is also not feasible for them to deal with the proposal pertaining to Israel’s security arrangements, which come at the expense of the “Palestinian land and people.”

Maliki’s statement left no doubt that two issues Kerry said have “broad consensus” among all parties actually do not.

Mustafa Barghouti, a top PLO official, told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership also cannot accept Kerry’s proposals on land swaps in Jerusalem and on refugees.

The Palestinians cannot concede territory in east Jerusalem and “you cannot deny people their right to return to their home,” he said, further highlighting policy differences between the US and Palestinians.

While Kerry’s speech broke ground for the Obama administration, enumerating a list of parameters to end the conflict, it also made clear that the Palestinian leadership, similar to the Israeli leadership, is not ready to embrace the basic policies the current US administration believes can bring about a two-state solution.

The US and Palestinian leaderships see eye to eye on settlements, but they are divided on a number of the remaining final-status issues.

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