Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the highest-level meeting between the
two sides in nearly 20 months, and the first ever meeting between the two
Fayyad, who will be leading a delegation that will include chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is expected to deliver a letter to Netanyahu
calling for negotiations as long as Israel stops all settlement construction,
accepts the June 5, 1967 lines as the basis of a future agreement and releases
Palestinian prisoners held before the signing of the Oslo Accords in
Netanyahu has long rejected these preconditions for
Within days of the delivery of this letter, Netanyahu’s
chief negotiator Yitzchak Molcho is expected to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas
and present him with Israel’s response.
Israeli officials on Monday
played down Tuesday’s meeting, even though it is the highest-level meeting since
September 2010, and said that no one believes that it will lead to any kind of
diplomatic breakthrough. One official said that Abbas is dispatching Fayyad to
the meeting, instead of going himself, because he still refuses to negotiate
with Netanyahu. Abbas broke off the talks in September 2010 just a few weeks
after they began because of an Israeli refusal to extend a 10-month settlement
construction moratorium after it lapsed.
The two sides last met in
Jordan at the end of January, culminating a month of lower-level discussions that
No joint press opportunity is expected following Tuesday’s
meeting, and neither the time nor location of the meeting in Jerusalem has been preannounced.
Amid rumors that Abbas might threaten to
dissolve the PA if Israel did not accept his preconditions for talks, he
reiterated Sunday that dismantling the PA was not an option. He also dismissed
calls for halting security coordination between the PA and Israel.
who was speaking to Palestinian journalists accompanying him on a visit to
Thailand and Japan, said that “while there are many reasons why the Palestinian
Authority was being weakened, dissolving it is not an option.”
dismissed as “cheap bidding” demands by Hamas and some Palestinian groups to
halt security coordination between the PA and Israel.
“When we have
security, this is in our interest,” Abbas said.
“Security coordination is
not for one side only, but also for Palestinian territories. We are keen on
security coordination because we want security for Palestinians.”
president accused Israel of making the two-state solution impossible by pursuing
construction in the settlements.
“But as far as we are concerned, the
two-state solution remains the first and final option. Settlements are illegal
and they will remain illegal.”
Abbas blamed the Arab countries for the
severe financial crisis facing the PA. He noted that the Arabs have yet to
fulfill their financial promises to support the Palestinians.
comments about security coordination with Israel drew sharp criticism from
Hamas, whose spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused the PA of providing Israel with
security services for free.
“Continued security coordination poses a
grave threat to the Palestinian cause and the interests of the Palestinians,”
Abu Zuhri charged, urging Abbas to halt the coordination with
Meanwhile, Fayyad said Monday that the Jordan Valley was an
integral part of the Palestinian territories.
“The Jordan Valley is not
for rent or trade,” Fayyad declared during a ceremony inaugurating a water dam
in the Jericho area. “There will be no Palestinian state without the Jordan
Valley,” Fayyad emphasized. “The same as there will be no state without the Gaza
Strip and east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Netanyahu has said repeatedly
that there will be no accord without an Israeli security presence in the Jordan
Valley, and that the revolutions throughout the Arab world only strengthen the
need for there to be such a presence along the Jordan River.
In a related
development, the United States will continue to oppose Palestinian attempts to
gain statehood recognition at the UN, and if necessary will use its veto to that
end, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said Monday.
Speaking at the
Netanya Academic College, Shapiro said that there were no shortcuts to peace in
the Middle East, and that the Palestinians must return to direct negotiations
with Israel without preconditions, on the basis of what was outlined by US
President Barack Obama. In a May 2011 speech, Obama said a future
“nonmilitarized” Palestinian state should “be based on 1967 lines with mutually
agreed swaps.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.