Kerry holds meetings with Abbas, Livni in Amman

US secretary of state holds surprise meetings in Jordan; Erekat says Kerry will unveil peace plan in two weeks.

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May 27, 2013 22:56
3 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Saeb Erekat, April 2013.

Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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US Secretary of State John Kerry held separate surprise meetings in Jordan on Monday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as he intensified his efforts to revive the peace process.

Kerry spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman, his third meeting with Abbas since Thursday.

They discussed efforts to renew direct negotiations, a PA official in Ramallah said.

Kerry also met in Amman with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and special envoy Yitzhak Molho, following two meetings he held with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday and again on Friday.

Erekat told the PA’s official newspaper Al-Ayam that Kerry planned to unveil a peace plan within two weeks.

“We expect Kerry to present his plan soon,” Abbas said to Al-Ayam before his meeting with the US secretary of state.

On Sunday, Kerry announced a $4 billion monetary plan for investment in private Palestinian business initiatives, so that the Palestinian economy can become selfsufficient rather than reliant on donor aid.

As he announced the plan at the concluding panel of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, he assured Abbas that it was important to have a diplomatic plan as well.

Abbas also met in Amman with Russia’s envoy to the Middle East, Sergey Vershinin, briefing him on the latest developments in Kerry’s efforts to resume peace talks with Israel.

President Shimon Peres said on Monday he supported Kerry’s proposal to help revive the Palestinian economy.

“It was really an overhaul proposal,” Peres said at the start of his Jerusalem meeting on Sunday with US Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Peres informed Menendez that he had met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and with Abbas on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, telling Abbas that Kerry’s economic plan was revolutionary in its commitment to increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent within three years.


Peres told Menendez he believed that the remaining differences with the Palestinians could be resolved.

But Palestinians remained skeptical of both Kerry’s economic and diplomatic efforts.

Erekat told Al-Ayam, “I don’t think there is anything called economic peace or security peace or political peace. These are intertwined elements and the key to peace and stability lies in Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, ending settlement construction and releasing prisoners.”

Abdallah Abdallah, a senior Fatah official, criticized Kerry’s talk about economic prosperity for the Palestinians.

“We have to be clear that we don’t want this economic peace,” he said. “We are not animals that only want food. We are a people struggling for freedom.”

PA officials said that the US secretary of state still hasn’t presented them with details of his initiative for resuming the peace process.

“Kerry is still not prepared to present a new peace initiative,” Erekat said. He added that the American diplomat had not asked the Palestinians to extend the window of time in which they had agreed not to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court, so as to give Kerry time to restart the talks.

“Kerry also hasn’t asked to extend the deadline for resuming the peace talks, which expires at the end of this month,” Erekat said.

The PA leadership remains committed to its demand that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state and release Palestinian prisoners before the talks are resumed, Erekat said.

The question now is whether Kerry will be able to persuade Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, Erekat said, something the prime minister has refused to do. Netanyahu has also rejected past Palestinian demands to halt West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel has consistently called on the Palestinians to hold talks without preconditions.

Kerry has urged both parties to keep their “eye on the prize,” which is the resumption of talks, which have been largely frozen since 2008.

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