Kerry and Abbas 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sounded upbeat on Tuesday in his
first public comments on the diplomatic process since US Secretary of State John
Kerry’s intensive shuttle diplomacy over the weekend, saying he was “optimistic”
about Kerry’s efforts.
“We are optimistic because Kerry is serious and
determined to achieve a solution,” Abbas told reporters after meeting with
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Ramallah.
“We hope the day will
come soon when we would be able to return to the negotiating table and discuss
the basic issues between us.”
If that did not happen, diplomatic sources
told The Jerusalem Post,
Abbas was considering calling a meeting at the UN in
September of all 138 countries who supported his bid at the UN last year for
non-member state status, to consider how to move that resolution to the next
Abbas said that his talks with Kerry did not only deal with the
resumption of the peace talks, but also various issues concerning Palestinians
Abbas said that Kerry presented some good and constructive
ideas. However, he added, the Palestinians still need “additional clarifications
and explanations” in order to return to the talks.
Kerry has promised to
return to the region within a week, Abbas added.
He said that there was
no need for him and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to meet “in a
“We could meet either in my home or his home,” Abbas said. “There
is no reason why we should not meet at any time.”
Netanyahu has said
repeatedly over the last few days that he is willing to meet Abbas in a “peace
tent” and sit there until “white smoke” comes out.
Abbas reiterated the
Palestinians’ keenness for peace, saying “They are our neighbors and we
recognize them as such. We must live together in security and
One Israeli official, asked for his response to Abbas’ upbeat
comments, said Kerry was engaged in a “very serious effort, and for the
Palestinians to say no – especially when the Europeans are supporting the
initiative – won’t be easy for them.”
Meanwhile, chief PLO negotiator
Saeb Erekat urged the Israeli government to fulfill its obligations toward the
peace process by halting construction in settlements and releasing Palestinian
prisoners. He also urged the Israeli government to accept the pre-1967 lines as
the basis for a two-state solution.
Erekat’s remarks came during a series
of meetings he held Tuesday with diplomats from France, Germany, China, India,
Brazil, South Africa and Japan.
“How can Kerry’s efforts succeed when the
Israeli government announces plans to build 930 housing units in Har Homa?”
He also noted that statements by some Israeli ministers
against a Palestinian state had a negative impact on Kerry’s
Diplomatic officials said that the discussions between Israel
and the Palestinians over the terms of reference for the negotiations are
Among the formulas being discussed would be Israel concurring
to an American reference to the 1967 lines as the terms of reference for the
negotiations, if the Palestinians accept an Israeli settlement freeze only
beyond the security fence, a move that would imply recognition that Israel would
hold on to the major settlement blocs.