Abbas blames talks' failure on Israeli intransigence

PA President tells Irish minister that Israel refused to present a "clear vision" regarding border, security issues.

PA president Abbas, Jordan King Abdullah II_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
PA president Abbas, Jordan King Abdullah II_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that “Israeli intransigence” was behind the failure of the January Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jordan.
Israel refused during the talks to present a “clear vision” regarding the issues of borders and security as demanded by the Quartet members – the US, EU, UN and Russia – Abbas said.
He made his remarks in Ramallah during a conversation with visiting Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, who is expected to meet on Sunday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Abbas told Gilmore that the Palestinians remain committed to a “real and serious peace process that would end Israeli occupation” and lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on all the territories captured in 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
In January, Israeli and Palestinian envoys met in Amman for five rounds of preliminary talks, as set out under Quartet guidelines published in September. The preliminary talks had been scheduled to start in October and end on January 26. But they did not begin until this month.
The Palestinians have threatened to stick with the January 26 deadline and to walk away from the talks, because they failed to achieved any tangible results.
On Friday, the Obama administration urged Israelis and Palestinians to continue the Amman talks.
“Both the Jordanian hosts and we are very much encouraging the parties to come back to the table in relatively short order, after they’ve had a chance to consult,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
On Saturday, Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas, said that the Palestinian leadership would consult with Arab countries before deciding whether the talks should continue.
Arab League ministers plan to hold a meeting early next month to hear from the Palestinians about the outcome of the five Amman sessions of talks, Hammad said.
He told the PA’s official Wafa news agency that the Amman talks have “proved to the Jordanians and members of the Quartet that the Israeli stance remains the obstacle to peace.”
The Palestinians were under pressure from various international parties to continue with the talks, he said. They are now expecting the US and other parties to hold Israel responsible for the failure of the Amman discussions, Hammad added.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki called on the international community to intervene with Israel to “salvage any chance left for resuming the peace talks.” Malki accused Israel of destroying efforts to resume the peace talks because of its refusal to freeze construction in the settlements and recognize the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
Israel has also called on the Palestinians to continue the talks.
It has added that in light of the delay in starting the talks, the clock for the three-month timetable by which to hold the preliminary conversation should go from in January to April, and not from October to January as first set out by the Quartet.
“It would indeed be a pity if the preliminary discussions were to cease,” an Israeli official said, adding that he hoped they could continue and reach fruition.
“We are committed in Israel to moving forward on the program articulated by the Quartet,” the official said.
During the last meeting in Amman both Israelis and Palestinians asked for clarification on the points raised in the talks, the official said.
Clarifications will be given in future meetings, the official said.
Israel’s envoy to the talks, Yitzhak Molcho, presented the Israeli guidelines on the issues of borders, the official said.
The official added that Molcho talked about the principals by which Israel views the West Bank.
In the final-status agreement, it wants to see “a majority of Israeli citizens on our side and a majority of Palestinians in the Palestinian state,” the official said.
No Amman meetings have been scheduled for this week.
Separately on Friday, Nuland spoke with reporters about former White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, who has held recently held discussions with Molcho.
She described Ross as “a private citizen,” but added that “he also has an association with the White House as an unpaid adviser.”