Peres Abbas and Kerry at WEC 370.
(photo credit: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)
US Secretary of State John Kerry won’t succeed in rekindling peace talks unless
he pressures Israel to halt settlement activity and accept a two-state solution
based on the 1967 borders, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said
“Kerry is still unable to put pressure on the Israeli
government to meet its obligations under the terms of the peace process,” said
Shaath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.
He spoke of his
frustration with Israel in an interview on the Palestinian Authority’s Voice of
Palestine radio station.
“It’s obvious following the recent meetings in
that there is no chance [of resuming the peace talks with Israel],
“This is not because Kerry does not want, but because he is
unable to exert pressure on Israel. Israel is responsible for obstructing the
In contrast, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of
his willingness to resume talks, which have been largely frozen since December
“We applaud Secretary Kerry’s efforts. I stand ready to resume
negotiations immediately, and I think there’s an abiding interest to achieve a
secure peace. And we’re prepared to get on with it,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday
when he met in Jerusalem with US Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who
chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez told The
Jerusalem Post that Kerry’s efforts have been “extraordinary.” He cautioned,
however, “there is on so much the secretary can do to prepare a table for people
to sit down and negotiate. “Only the leaders can make the decision to
negotiate,” Menendez added.
Out of respect for Kerry’s efforts, both
Israel and the Palestinians have tried to refrain from actions that would
inflame their relationship and make direct talks more difficult to
Israel has refused to freeze settlement activity and Jewish
building in east Jerusalem, but at the same time, has made efforts to
temporarily halt the advancement or publication of building plans.
spokesman for the Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel said that a plan
to publish tenders for 797 homes in the Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhood of
Gilo was frozen.
“All the documents are plans are prepared and ready, but
we have no authorization,” he said.
“Everything is frozen,” the spokesman
added as he spoke with The Jerusalem Post after a Channel 10 report about the
The spokesman dismissed a portion of the report, which spoke of
some 300 to 700 new homes in the Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhood of
Tenders for these plans were issued over a year ago, he said. But
recently the project was awarded to two contractors, who have received
notification of the matter.
Kerry, who visited the region from Thursday
to Monday, met three times with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, twice with
Netanyahu, and a number of times with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is
charge of negotiations for Israel.
Kerry has tried to find an acceptable
formula to re-launch negotiations, including holding another round of
exploratory conversations under the auspices of the Jordanians.
rejected the idea of these “exploratory” talks.
“We tried such talks in
the past and we won’t go in this direction again because the negotiations
failed,” adding that “there was a real feeling that there is no progress in the
peace process because of Israeli intransigence.”
analyst Hani Habib said that Kerry’s decision to focus on economic development
in a $4 billion plan to invest in private Palestinian businesses shows that in
the Palestinian territories “the economic option is a way of compensating for
political failure.” He and other Palestinians have dismissed Kerry’s plan to
boost the Palestinian economy so long as it’s not part of a political
Meanwhile, the PLO Executive Committee, a key decision-making
body, on Tuesday night decided to form a committee to study future options if
the Israeli government continues to refuse halting construction in the
The committee stressed the need to “stick by the clear and
declared Palestinian position toward the resumption of peace talks with Israel,
especially with regards to a full cessation of settlement construction,
including Jerusalem, and recognition of the 1967 border” as the basis for a