In Ramallah, Israeli finance minister urges Palestinians to return to US-led peace talks
“The Americans are the only fair mediators in the region. I call on you to return to the negotiations table under their patronage,” Kahlon said.
By ADAM RASGONUpdated: FEBRUARY 21, 2018 00:49
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called for the Palestinians to return to the negotiations table under the patronage of US President Donald Trump’s administration.Kahlon made the comments in a meeting on Monday with the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, according to a readout of the meeting distributed by Kahlon spokesman Omri Haroosh.“The Americans are the only fair mediators in the region,” Kahlon said, according to the readout. “I call on you to return to the negotiations table under their patronage.”After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will no longer work with an American-dominated peace process and called for the establishment of a multilateral peace process to replace it.In the past two months, Abbas has asked several countries to mediate and support such a multilateral process. Israel has said it will only work with an American-led peace process.Kahlon also discussed issues related to security, banking, water and electricity with Hamdallah, the readout said, without elaborating.Kahlon and Hamdallah have met at least three times in the past year.AdvertisementHamdallah and his Palestinian colleagues expressed “their complete rejection” of recent Israeli decisions to construct settlements, according to a report on Monday’s meeting on the official PA news site Wafa.In the past year, Israel has approved the construction of thousands of settlement units around the West Bank.The PA prime minister and the other Palestinians officials also called on “the Israeli government to undertake its responsibility to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip,” the Wafa report said.Israel heavily limits the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. The IDF holds that the restrictions are in place for security purposes.Hamdallah and the officials also urged Israel to grant Palestinians permission to construct projects in Area C of the West Bank, the Wafa report added.According to the Oslo Accords, Area C of the West Bank is under Israeli security and administrative control. Israel seldom grants Palestinians there permission to build homes or other projects.Kahlon and Hamdallah’s meeting on Monday took place after two other meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials last week. Last Thursday, Economy Minister Eli Cohen and PA Economy Minister Abeer Oudeh met in Paris to discuss economic cooperation. And last Wednesday, Yoav Mordechai, the IDF general responsible for coordinating with Palestinians, met with Hamdallah to speak about Gaza.