US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures before meeting the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US administration is planning to present a proposal to resume the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after the mid-term elections for Congress, slated for Tuesday, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported over the weekend.
The report came as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced on Friday that a Palestinian delegation would arrive at the US capital for high-level talks on ways to move forward with the stalled peace talks and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
The delegation, headed by PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, is expected to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.
The two sides are scheduled to discuss ways of ending the recent upsurge in violence in east Jerusalem, a Palestinian Authority official said.
On Friday, Kerry phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed with him the possibility of reviving the peace talks amid ongoing tensions in east Jerusalem, the official added.
According to the Al-Quds report, the new US proposal consists of three points: ending construction in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem; suspending the Palestinian bid at the UN Security Council for a resolution setting a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines; and resuming the peace talks from the point where they ended last April.
Early in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s second tenure as prime minister, the government imposed a 10-month moratorium on building starts in West Bank settlements. The gesture did not jump-start the peace talks, which at that time were also frozen.
Since then, Israel has refused attempts to halt West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no response to the Al-Quds report about a US plan.
Kerry spoke with Netanyahu on Thursday night, but Psaki said the topic under discussion was the violence in Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s office said it would not discuss the contents of the conversation.
The Al-Quds report quoted a source as saying that the US administration believes that it is still possible to reach a peace agreement on the basis of the two-state solution.
However, the US administration also believes that the “window for such a solution is narrowing in light of the absence of confidence between Israel and the Palestinians and rising tensions resulting from both sides’ unilateral measures.”
Meanwhile, Erekat accused the Israeli government of working to destroy the two-state solution and “impose an apartheid regime in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Erekat told French diplomats and German parliamentarians that the Israeli government bears responsibility for the ongoing tensions and the collapse of the peace process because of its continued settlement activities and “assaults” on the Aksa Mosque.
The Palestinians are determined to proceed with their plan to seek a UN resolution requiring Israel to pull back to the pre-1967 lines within three years, he said.
The Palestinians continue to push for unilateral recognition of statehood, separate from the peace process, in a move that has growing support in Europe, with Sweden becoming the first European Union member state to recognize “Palestine” on Thursday.
The UK and Ireland last month held non-binding parliamentary votes in favor of Palestinian statehood. Spain is excepted to follow suit this month.
The US rhetoric against building in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem has grown increasingly sharp.
Last week, Netanyahu announced that 1,060 homes would be built in Jerusalem beyond the pre-1967 lines, and spoke of plans for 12 new roads in Judea and Samaria, including some to isolated settlements.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 on Saturday night that Netanyahu had spoken of new settlement activity to appease right-wing politicians.
Such announcements, coupled with the rhetoric from right-wing politicians and ministers, are harmful to attempts to restart the peace process, she said.
Livni said she feared Abbas had chosen a unilateral path to Palestinian statehood rather than a negotiated one, and called on Netanyahu to counter Abbas’s action by initiating a process together with moderate Arab nations and the Palestinians.
Israel must also stop announcing settlement activity, Livni said, blaming the recent tensions with the US on new settlement activity.
It creates a feeling of mistrust, Livni said, adding that Netanyahu’s actions in courting right-wing politicians harm Israel’s security and its relations with the US.
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