PM to meet PA delegation led by Fayyad

PA prime minister to bring letter from Abbas to Netanyahu, explaining requirements for restarting stalled peace process.

Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayyad 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)
Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayyad 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are scheduled to meet after Passover for the highest-level meeting between the two sides since September 2010, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday.
Palestinian Authority officials, confirming that the meeting would take place in Jerusalem, said Fayyad would deliver a long-awaited letter to Netanyahu. A senior PA official said that the letter would not contain any threats, such as the dismantlement of the PA.
Israel, as first reported Wednesday in The Jerusalem Post, will present the Palestinians with a letter of its own.
This letter is expected to state that Israel is prepared for peace talks with the Palestinians where all the core issues will be on the agenda; that it places no preconditions whatsoever on entering the talks; and that any agreement reached must contain Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and include effective security arrangements.
Israeli and Palestinian officials have not met since a round of low-level talks in Jordan broke off on January 25, after five sessions.
Fayyad will be accompanied by chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and PLO Secretary- General Yasser Abed Rabbo, said Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas. Netanyahu will be joined in the meeting by his negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho.
Hammad said Abbas’s letter would reiterate the PA’s declared policy of staying away from the peace talks until Israel freezes construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem and recognizes the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
The letter will also call for the release of Palestinian prisoners who were jailed by Israel prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords, the official told The Jerusalem Post.
In addition, the letter will include a demand for canceling all measures that were taken by Israel after the second intifada, which erupted in September 2000, first and foremost the removal of checkpoints and the security barrier in the West Bank, he disclosed.
Erekat said Wednesday that Abbas was seeking clarifications from the Israeli government regarding its stance toward final-status issues like borders, refugees, water, security and Jerusalem.
Abbas had initially planned on sending a strongly-worded letter to Netanyahu that included, among other things, a threat to dismantle the PA so that Israel would become responsible for managing the day-today affairs of the Palestinians, his aides said last week.
They revealed that Abbas was forced to soften his tone and drop the threat after coming under heavy pressure from the US administration.
Both US Middle East envoy David Hale and Quartet envoy Tony Blair met with the sides this week for talks aimed, according to one official, at keeping the sides engaged and the situation stable.
The Netanyahu-Fayyad meeting is scheduled to take place a few days after a meeting of the Quartet – made up of the US, EU, Russia and UN – in Washington this coming Wednesday. Diplomatic officials said they did not expect any dramatic statements to emerge from that meeting, but rather a further reiteration of calls for the sides to engage in negotiations.