Israel, PA reps to meet again in Amman

Palestinians have been downplaying significance of second round of direct talks since Jordanians renewed channel last week.

Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo 311 (R) (photo credit: Nasser Nuri/Reuters)
Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo 311 (R)
(photo credit: Nasser Nuri/Reuters)
Israeli and Palestinian officials are scheduled to meet in Amman on Monday for the second time in a week, though Palestinian officials say the gap between the two sides on security and border issues remains as wide as ever.
Unlike the meeting last Tuesday, this time representatives of the Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and UN – will not be in attendance. Jordan will host the talks at the Foreign Ministry in Amman.
RELATED:‘Document Israel gave PA was just an outline’ 'PA gives 'borders and security' positions to Israel'
Palestinian officials in Ramallah said they did not expect Monday’s meeting between chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho to achieve a breakthrough in the current stalemate.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo characterized the talks in Jordan as only “exploratory meetings” and not serious negotiations.
“Israel does not want serious negotiations,” Abed Rabbo charged. “The Israelis continue to reject the two-state solution and insist on pursuing construction in the settlements, especially in Jerusalem.”
Israeli officials, who said Jerusalem “wanted the process to succeed,” said other meetings were already planned after Monday’s discussion.
The officials refused, however, to discuss anything substantive about the meetings, saying they would only succeed if conducted without information leaking to the media.
Abed Rabbo said that if no progress was achieved by January 26, the Palestinian Authority would resume its efforts to gain Palestinian membership in the UN.
Last autumn the Quartet gave Israelis and Palestinians three months to present comprehensive proposals on security and border issues. That deadline expires on January 26.
At last week’s meeting, the first between the sides since September 2010, the Palestinians presented Israel with their proposal on borders and security, which calls for a full Israeli return to the June 4, 1967, lines, except for a 1.9 percent land swap.
Israel, in turn, gave the Palestinians a 21-point document outlining the general principles it believes will need to be dealt with to reach an agreement. Israel’s position is that its comprehensive proposal on security and borders will be produced at the end of three months of negotiation, not the beginning.
Palestinian officials said Molcho presented Israel’s response to the PA’s proposals regarding security and borders orally.
Wasel Abu Yusef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said on Sunday that there was “nothing new” in the Israeli response.
Abu Yusef claimed that these were the same ideas that had been presented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to PA President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010.
“The Israeli position basically seeks to hinder the establishment of a Palestinian state,” the PLO official said. “Israel wants to maintain control over the borders and strategic areas in the West Bank. Israel is also refusing to consider east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.”
Abu Wasel said that the PA position on security and borders remained clear and unchanged, namely that a Palestinian state be established on all the territories (excluding the Golan and Sinai) captured by Israel in 1967, including east Jerusalem.
“The talks in Amman won’t lead to any results and will evolve in a vicious cycle,” he said. “The Palestinian leadership sees no point in pursuing the Amman talks, which only serve to help the Netanyahu government create the false impression that it wants peace.”