Kerry expected to unveil framework at end of month for continuation of peace talks

US secretary of state to return to region to work towards a Palestinian-Israeli summit under Jordanian auspices.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, January 5, 2014. (photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, January 5, 2014.
(photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

US Secretary of State John Kerry will present a framework paper that will serve as a basis for further negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of the month, Palestinian sources said on Saturday.

Although officials in the Prime Minister’s Office would not confirm this, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told Israel Radio the same thing on Saturday.
Danon further said that Kerry would return to the region in two days, and that efforts were being made to hold a summit meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas under Jordanian sponsorship.
The Palestinian sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that the Kerry document consisted of “general ideas that are elastic and fuzzy.”
According to the sources, each side would be able to interpret the ideas that will be in the Kerry document as they wish.
The agreement will be announced during a conference in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba under the auspices of King Abdullah II, the sources added.
Jordan will have a role in the agreement, which would be determined by the US administration, the sources said.
They said Jordan would have a role concerning borders, administration of the holy sites and the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as an airport and refugees.
Netanyahu paid a previously unannounced visit to Amman on Thursday, and Abdullah met the previous week with both Abbas and Kerry.
The US framework paper, the sources said, could include a phrase supporting “Palestinian aspirations in Jerusalem.”
“Sovereignty and control over the border and natural resources will effectively remain in the hands of Israel,” the sources claimed.
In addition, the sources said, settlement blocs will remain under Israeli control and the 1967 borders would be canceled.
The sources claimed the agreement applies only to the West Bank since Israel is “not interested in the Gaza Strip in the long term.”
The agreement also envisages US training of Palestinian security forces, the sources said.
The report said the Palestinians were opposed to the US plan and believe it is aimed at “liquidating the Palestinian cause.”
The report said the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state was now an American demand and not only an Israeli one.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu, in an interview with CTV news that aired in Canada Thursday night, in advance of the visit Sunday by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said “the pivot” of the whole debate with the Palestinians is whether they will recognize Israel as the nationstate of the Jewish people.
“I want to end the conflict, not to perpetuate it under other terms,” Netanyahu said.
“I don’t want to give the Palestinians better lines under which to attack us. I want to say, go ahead, you have your state, but you have to recognize the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu, after stressing that this would in no way impugn on the civil rights of non-Jews living in Israel, contrasted that with the way the Palestinians were contemplating their state. The Palestinians, he said, are saying, “no Jews can live there [in a future Palestinian state]. It has to be Jew-free; ethnic cleansing.
What is that? There are Arabs who live here, but they can’t contemplate Jews living there.”
Repeating a theme he is stressing increasingly, Netanyahu said the Palestinians want in their future state a “complete eradication and uprooting of any Jewish presence, in a place where Jews have lived for 4,000 years.”
Netanyahu said Harper’s “clear moral stand is appreciated by many people far and wide.”
The Canadian prime minister is widely considered one of the world leaders most supportive of Israel. Netanyahu said he did not believe Harper’s unabashedly pro-Israel position has cost Canada friends in the Arab world.
“The Middle East has changed, and many Arab countries see Iran, a nuclear Iran, as their primary problem, and the Muslim Brotherhood as the other problem,” Netanyahu said. “They see Israel not as an enemy, but as a friend. When Canada says Israel is our friend, they are not necessarily alienating the Arabs – quite the contrary – because the Arabs are changing, the Arabs – sometimes openly, sometimes in corridors or whispers – say ‘Israel is our friend.’ So they don’t view others differently as a result of that. The world is changing, the Middle East is changing.”
Harper’s four-day visit on Sunday is to be the first visit here by a sitting Canadian prime minister since Jean Chretien in 2000. He is to be accompanied by a 250-person delegation, including six ministers and six parliament members.
Harper is to be accompanied by his wife, Laureen, and Netanyahu and his wife are to host them for dinner soon after their arrival.
On Monday Harper is to be the first Canadian leader ever to address the Knesset. Netanyahu last met Harper at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in London last April. Netanyahu also met with Harper in Ottawa on visits there in 2010 and 2012.
Harper, Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday night, “is a great friend of the State of Israel.
He has strongly opposed against attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and has taken a praiseworthy moral stand against these attempts.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.