Livni expected to meet Kerry during trip to US

PLO officials say Kerry has failed to secure Israeli pledge to stop building in settlements and accept the pre-1967 lines.

By
June 1, 2013 22:43
3 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in Rome May 8, 2013.

Livni and Kerry in Rome May 8, 2013370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to fly to Washington Sunday evening to address the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum on Monday and is expected to meet Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss his efforts to re-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Livni, who is in charge of the negotiating team with the Palestinians, has met Kerry some four times over the past two weeks. The meeting follows Kerry’s visit to the region last week, and his continued push to restart talks.

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Kerry is scheduled to address the three-day AJC parley on Monday and discuss his ongoing efforts to get the sides back to the table.

He phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas twice over the weekend and once again discussed ideas that could lead to the resumption of the peace process, a PA official in Ramallah said.

The official said that Abbas was facing “huge pressure” from Kerry to abandon his preconditions for the resumption of the peace talks.

Abbas complained over the weekend that the US administration was putting pressure on him to return to the negotiating table with Israel unconditionally.

According to Israeli government officials, Kerry speaks to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about “every two to three days.”



PLO officials who were briefed by Abbas said that Kerry has failed to secure an Israeli pledge to stop building in settlements and accept the pre-1967 lines as the future border between Israel and a Palestinian state. These have been among Palestinian preconditions to resuming talks.

“The pressure should be on the Israeli side and not on President Abbas,” the official said. “If Kerry can’t convince Israel to change its policies and practices, that’s his problem and not ours.”

One Israeli official said Israel wanted Kerry to succeed, and added that Jerusalem “hoped the Palestinians will not pull out at the last minute.”

“We are ready for talks,” he said. “Our team is ready.”

In a related development, Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that Israel was trying to get rid of Abbas because of his “adherence” to the rights of the Palestinians.

Erekat told Dubai TV that “all of Israel is saying that he [Abbas] is not a peace partner.

They are talking about the need to get rid of him.”

Erekat warned that Abbas could meet the same fate of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, for refusing to make concessions to Israel. He added that because of his positions, Arafat was “besieged, and died for his principles.”

On Kerry’s current efforts to revive the peace talks with Israel, Erekat warned that the Palestinians would embark on a new strategy should the mission fail.

“The Palestinians want Kerry to commit Israel to accept the twostate solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, halt settlement construction and release prisoners,” Erekat said.

The new Palestinian strategy, he pointed out, would include resumption of efforts to join 63 international agencies and conventions.

Erekat accused Israel of conducting negotiations “outside the negotiating table by creating facts on the ground and imposing dictates, building settlements, assassinations, closures and house demolitions.”

PLO officials quoted Abbas as saying that Israel has refused to discuss the issue of Jerusalem with the PA, according to a report, Saturday, in Al-Ayyam, the PA’s official newspaper.

During a meeting with Arab residents of Jerusalem in his office over the weekend, Abbas said that “without Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state there would be no political solution.”

He added: “East Jerusalem is the essence of the State of Palestine. It is in the hearts of all Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims. We won’t leave this land despite all the pressure and assaults.”

PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amireh said that Kerry has brought nothing new.

“He is only talking about development in the context of an unrealistic economic plan,” Amireh said. He added that Kerry only wants to talk about security and borders.

Another PLO official, Wasel Abu Yusef, said the US secretary of state has failed to convince Israel to stop settlement construction and accept the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.

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