Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 8.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to go anywhere to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate, but the setting of preconditions for such talks is a non-starter, a government source said Wednesday amid speculation of a fourway summit in Cairo.
The idea of a summit hosted by the Egyptians that would include Netanyahu, Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah gained currency following two surprise meetings Sunday in Jerusalem between Netanyahu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
Shokry visited Ramallah on June 29, and according to a report in Walla, set a list of demands as preconditions for such a summit: a settlement freeze, a firm timetable for the negotiations, and an Israeli agreement that the pre- 1967 lines will be the basis for the negotiations.
An Israeli government official expressed skepticism that the Palestinians would join a Cairo summit, and said that the preconditions were a way to avoid negotiations.
“I get the feeling that the Palestinians are not going to go to the talks,” he said. “They will run away as they have in the past if it gets real.”
Abbas, according to a PA source, is expected to meet a top Egyptian official early next week at the African Union summit being held in Rwanda and discuss the initiative. Without elaborating, the PA source said some “steps” may be taken after the meeting. The official intimated that it was up to the Egyptians, and not Israel or the PA, to make the preparations for the summit.
Meanwhile, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in an interview with Reuters that a two-state solution “is perhaps the furthest away it’s ever been, and in fact it is really worse than that – it is slipping away as we speak.”
He cited, as did the Quartet report on the Middle East peace process released on July 1, settlement construction and Palestinian violence and incitement as among the most troubling obstacles.
“It’s time for the international community and the leadership on both sides to wake up,” Mladenov said.
“The only alternative [to a two-state solution] that I see is perpetual violence here in Israel and Palestine and entangling this conflict into the broader problems of the region,” he continued.
While asserting that it was necessary to return to direct negotiations, Mladenov said it would be “close to daydreaming” to say this was immediately in the offing. “The collapse of trust has been really dramatic,” he said.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.
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