US Secretary of State John Kerry’s round-the-clock efforts will hopefully create
a conducive environment to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian talks, Nasser Judeh,
Jordan’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday in Amman on the eve of Kerry’s
arrival in Jerusalem Thursday.
“We provide our full support for these
efforts, and God willing, they will result in crystallizing an inducing
environment for launching these negotiations,” said Judeh after meeting with
The secretary of state is scheduled to meet Thursday with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni, who will be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians, if and when
Kerry gets them off the ground.
This will be Livni’s third meeting with
Kerry this month, having met with him already in Washington and Rome. This will
be Kerry’s fourth visit to the region since US President Barack Obama visited
Israel in late March.
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that
Netanyahu and Kerry speak on a regular basis, about once “every two to three
But Kerry is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas only on Sunday in Jordan, at the World Economic
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will also be at the
Kerry is expected to roll out a framework for returning to
negotiations in early June, and since taking office he has been trying to get
the various sides to take steps that would create a better environment more
conducive to talks.
These steps include what is widely believed to be a
de facto but unstated temporary freeze on construction beyond the Green Line,
including in east Jerusalem; a PA commitment to temporarily avoid seeking
upgrades in international forums or taking Israel to the International Criminal
Court; and the Arab League delegation’s recent declaration that it would accept
an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that included a “mild” land
Israeli officials have been very reticent about talking about
details of the package Kerry is working on to get the sides back to the table,
saying that there was “actually a chance” it could work and a public discussion
of the details “could be detrimental.”
United Nations Special Coordinator
to the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the UN Security Council in
New York that efforts to “achieve the negotiated two-state solution are 0likely
to reach a critical point in the coming weeks ahead.”
But a senior PLO
official said the Palestinians did not expect “We don’t believe this visit will lead to any results,” PLO Executive Committee
member Wasel Abu Yusef said.
Reiterating the PA demand for a full
cessation of settlement construction, Abu Yusef said that Palestinians should
not return to the peace talks unless Israel released Palestinian
He added that the talk about resuming the peace process was
as long as Israel continues to reject a sovereign Palestinian state
and the “right of return” for Palestinians to return to their former homes
The PLO official rejected the recent Arab League proposal
for a land swap between the Palestinians and Israel.
It stepped up its
anti-Israel rhetoric on Wednesday, with PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki accusing
Israel of thwarting Kerry’s efforts during a meeting in Ramallah with Erkki
Tuomioja, Finland’s foreign minister.
Malki strongly condemned “continued
Israeli practices and violations against our people and their properties,”
according to a statement by the PA.
He called for international
intervention to stop Israel’s alleged violations that, he added, “will hinder
international efforts to revive the peace process.”
Malki claimed that
Israel was determined to foil Kerry’s mission by continuing to build in
Jerusalem and settlements.
Earlier, Malki’s office warned that the
demolition of houses and businesses that were built without licenses in east
Jerusalem was also designed to foil Kerry’s mission.
Municipality inspectors have over the past few days demolished a number of
houses and a car exhibition business that did not have proper
The PA Foreign Ministry said that the demolitions were also
aimed at “emptying Jerusalem of its Palestinian residents.”
demolitions, it added, “constituted a blunt challenge to the will of the
The State Department said Kerry’s meetings in
Jordan, Jerusalem and Ramallah “are to follow up on ongoing discussions as we
continue to assess how we can best support the parties in getting back to the
table and in having dialogue leading to peace. We remain committed to working
with the parties to achieve a lasting peace through direct
Israeli officials said that while the Palestinian issue
will be at the center of Netanyahu’s talks with Kerry, there is no doubt that
other burning issues – such as the situation in Syria and Iran – will also be
In addition to meeting Kerry, Netanyahu is also scheduled to
meet separately with British Foreign Secretary of State William Hague, who is
arriving Thursday for two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials,
as well as with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
famously called Netanyahu a liar in a private conversation with Obama in 2011
and added “I cannot bear Netanyahu,” received an honorary doctorate from the
Netanyahu Academic College on Wednesday. He received the award for his
“humanitarian work, leadership, and friendship toward Israel and the Jewish
Netanyahu and Sarkozy met once in Paris since the “liar”
This will be their first meeting, however, since Sarkozy lost
the French presidential elections last year. He is believed to be the one who
asked for the meeting with Netanyahu. •