PA official pours cold water on Kerry's visit

Following Abbas's meeting with US consul-general, Palestinian Authority official says Israeli government not interested in peace.

Kerry and Abbas in Istanbul 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool)
Kerry and Abbas in Istanbul 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool)
The Palestinian Authority does not believe that US Secretary of State John Kerry – who is returning to the region on Thursday – will carry new ideas that will lead to the resumption of peace talks with Israel, a PA official in Ramallah said Monday.
The official’s remark came shortly after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in his office with US Consul-General Michael Ratney and discussed with him Kerry’s efforts to revive the peace process.
This will be Kerry’s fourth visit since he accompanied US President Barack Obama to Israel in late March. “Our position regarding the resumption of the peace talks remains unchanged,” the official said. “We continue to insist on a full cessation of settlement construction and the release of Palestinian prisoners before the talks are resumed.”
According to the official, “there is good reason to believe that Israel has not accepted our position. This Israeli government is not interested in peace.”
One Israeli government official dismissed these comments as “cheap,” “superficial” and “not serious.”
The process with Kerry is ongoing, the Israeli official said. “There is a very serious effort going on to restart the talks,” he said. “We sincerely hope the effort will succeed, and we hope the Palestinians will be a partner in the process.”
According to the official, the Americans are working on a formula that will make possible the resumption of peace talks, and are working in parallel on a “political and economic framework.”
Kerry is expected to unveil the framework in early June.
“For years, the Palestinian side has been calling on the US to play a more active role, and to be more active in bringing the sides together to move the process forward,” the official said.
“Now that the Americans are actually doing that, surely they deserve better than these types of cheap comments.”