Abbas: Palestinians want Kerry to succeed

US secretary of state may return to push for resumption of peace talks; PA continues to demand that Israel halt settlement construction.

June 18, 2013 18:47
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, May 31, 2013.

John Kerry 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Kerry is expected to return to the region next week as part of his efforts to revive stalled peace talks, the Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials said Tuesday.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas emphasized that the Palestinians were keen on making Kerry’s mission succeed.

This will be Kerry’s fifth trip to Israel since March. He was originally planned to arrive last week, but postponed because of the discussion in Washington on whether to arm the Syrian rebels.

During a meeting in Ramallah with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Abbas reiterated his demand that Israel halt settlement construction and release Palestinian prisoners to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.

An Israeli official responded that “if the Palestinians keep piling on pre-conditions, they are going to miss a historic opportunity. It is time to move forward, Israel is ready.”

But Mohamed Shtayyeh, member of the PA negotiating team with Israel, said he did not expect Kerry to bring a response from Israel that meets the minimum demands of the Palestinians.

Shtayyeh told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station that Kerry would meet with Abbas to brief him on the latest developments surrounding his efforts to resume the peace talks.

Shtayyeh said that the PA was expecting Kerry to present his “political vision” regarding the resumption of the peace talks during his upcoming visit and not at a later date.

The PA official accused the Israeli government of working to undermine Kerry’s efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

He also reiterated the PA’s demands for a full cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines before resuming the peace process with Israel.

Shtayyeh criticized the US administration for failing to put pressure on Israel to accept the PA’s demands and repeated threats to seek Palestinian membership of United Nations agencies and conventions should Kerry’s efforts fail.

Wasel Abu Yusef, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the Palestinians were not expecting Kerry to bring new ideas that could pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.

Abu Yusef pointed out that some Israeli ministers have publicly come out against the establishment of a Palestinian state “and this shows that there can be no negotiations with the Israeli side.” He also noted that Israel was refusing to stop building in the settlements and east Jerusalem.

“On what basis can there be peace with Israel when it pursues these policies?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed as “Palestinian propaganda” a two day conference in Beijing under the auspices of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

With Syria in turmoil, Turkey facing unprecedented protests, and Egypt on the verge of an explosion on June 30 (the anniversary of the election of President Mohamed Morsi), Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu declared that “the Palestinian question is the core of the Middle East issue. It bears on not only peace and security of the Middle East region, but also world peace and stability.”

According to Ma, “regional turbulence has exacerbated the sufferings of the Palestinian people and may further escalate if the security and humanitarian situation of the occupied Palestinian territory is not improved.”

Palmor characterized the UN committee that organized the conference as “a UN branch that is a Palestinian propaganda platform that has never done anything that remotely contributes to peace.”

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