Palestinians not expecting new US peace push

PA leadership waiting for clarification from visiting Vice President Joe Biden on whether reported plans for a UNSC resolution were true.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Ramallah (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Ramallah
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that it was unaware of any new US effort to resume the stalled peace process with Israel. 

Ahmed Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the PA leadership has not received any official word from the US Administration about the resumption of the peace talks with Israel.

His remarks came in response to a report in the Wall Street Journal that the US Administration is exploring the possibility of supporting a UN Security Council resolution that would set the principles for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian agreement. According to the report, the resolution would be brought to a vote before the end of President Barack Obama’s term in office. 

Majdalani said that the PA leadership was waiting to hear from visiting Vice President Joe Biden whether the report was true. Biden is scheduled to visit Ramallah on Wednesday for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Palestinian officials. 

Majdalani called on the US Administration to lay out its vision of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the end of Obama’s term in office. 

A PA official in Ramallah said that in his meeting with Biden, Abbas would renew his call for holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East.

Asked about the Wall Street Journal report, according to which the US would ask the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and “end claims on the right of return for Palestinian refugees,” the PA official said: “Our position remains as clear as ever: there will be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no compromise on the right of return, which must be solved according to UN resolution 194.”

The resolution, which was adopted in December 1948, defines the principles for reaching a final settlement and returning Palestinian refugees to their homes inside Israel. The resolution states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”  

At a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah last week, Abbas declared that the PA leadership “categorically rejects the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.” 

The official said that the PA leadership was “surprised” to hear about the US plan to revive the peace process. “We haven’t been notified through the diplomatic channels about any new initiative to resume the peace process,” the official said.

The official said that the US Administration has lost its status as an honest broker because of its “bias” in favor of Israel. That’s why the Palestinians will continue to push for an international conference, as proposed by France, he added.

A special French envoy is scheduled to visit the region in the coming days to discuss preparations for convening the proposed international conference, Palestinian sources confirmed on Tuesday. The sources said that France was hoping that the conference would be held as early as July.

The French initiative to convene an international peace conference was presented last January in a speech by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Fabius said that France would recognize a Palestinian state if no progress is made on the two-state solution.