PA officials accuse US of 'deception and misinformation' in peace talks

Officials say Kerry gave Abbas assurances that Israel would decrease construction in settlement blocs while talks last.

Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian officials in Ramallah have accused the US administration of deceiving and misinforming the Palestinian Authority with regards to the peace talks with Israel.
The officials told the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper that they were concerned about the US administration’s role in the peace talks with Israel – renewed last month after a three-year standoff – especially its position on plans to build homes in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
After the latest session on Wednesday, the officials had met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and heard from him about the peace talks with Israel.
According to the newspaper, some of the Palestinian officials accused Washington of “deception and misinformation” in order to keep the PA at the negotiating table with Israel.
The officials also expressed concern that the US would dupe the PA into accepting a state with provisional borders, the newspaper said.
It quoted Abbas as telling the officials: “I have told the US administration 10 times, and I’m ready to tell them again, that we won’t accept any solution that contradicts the Palestinian vision.”
A senior Palestinian official told Al-Hayat that US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the Palestinians assurances that Israel would reduce construction in settlement blocs.
The official also claimed that Kerry promised that Israel would halt construction in settlements outside the blocs during the peace negotiations.
“It’s obvious that Kerry was either deceived by the Israelis or that he’s deceiving us in order to keep us at the negotiating table,” the official said.
Some Palestinian officials voiced concern over talks between the US and Israel regarding shared security interests once a political solution is reached. One official complained that the Palestinians were not party to these talks.
The sides have provided little detail about the talks, hoping a lower profile may help them reach Washington’s ambitious goal of a deal for Palestinian statehood in nine months, despite wide gaps over key issues.
On Friday, Israel’s top peace negotiator said the newly resumed talks with the Palestinians held a wider opportunity for Israel to seek alliances with Arab world moderates against radicals in the Middle East.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking after a meeting about the negotiations with visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, declined to say whether any progress had been made.
She said the talks had provided an opening “not only to relaunch negotiations but also to change the allies and alliances in the region.”
“I believe there are parts in the Arab world that for them relaunching the negotiations can be an opportunity to support this and to work together against the extremists,” she added, alluding to the turmoil in Egypt and Syria.
Abbas said at a meeting with Ban on Thursday that the negotiations with Israel had thus far dealt with “all the final-status issues,” but that it was “too early to say whether we’ve accomplished anything or not.”
The Arab League, Jordan and Egypt’s military-led government have welcomed the resumption of peace talks, with backing from the Arab League whose 2002 peace initiative remains on the table for possible recognition of Israel after the dispute is resolved.
Ban said in his Ramallah talks with Abbas he was “deeply troubled by Israel’s continuing settlement activity in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.”
The UN chief was referring to plans for some 1,200 new housing units in the territory Israel captured in the Six Day War which Israel published ahead of last week’s talks.
Ban praised Israel’s release of 26 of the 104 security prisoners promised under a deal that led to resuming peace talks, but expressed concern for 5,000 other Palestinians in Israeli jails, some of whom have been on intermittent hunger strikes.