Amman/Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—US Secretary of State John Kerry has extended his stay in Amman as the Palestinian sides appear to be far from reaching consensus over the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Seeking to persuade the Palestinians of his peace initiative, Kerry is flying to Ramallah to hold a third meeting with Mahmud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA,) on Friday.
Despite the Arab League’s approval of Kerry’s initiative, the Palestinian leadership are deadlocked on Washington’s efforts to bring the two conflicting sides back to the negotiating table, Fatah sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Palestinian leadership, represented by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah, were almost unanimous in their calls that a prospective resumption of peace talks be accompanied by an Israeli settlement freeze and the release of prisoners. The Palestinian side also remains firmly committed that any recognition of the Palestinian state should be based on the pre-1967 lines.
However Israel has refused to meet the Palestinian conditions offering instead to carry out a gradual release of prisoners and halt activities in some settlements in exchange for the Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state of Israel.
The high-level meeting concluded yesterday late-evening with the Palestinians opposing Kerry’s proposal, saying they needed more guarantees from the Israeli side.
“There are currently no plans for an announcement on the resumption of negotiations,” Jen Psaki, a spokesman for the US State Department said, signalling uncertainty about prospects for the resumption of negotiations.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Wasel Abu Yusef, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said: “We told the president [Abbas] that returning to negotiations would be something dangerous without Israel meeting our demands which are: freezing settlement activities, the borders of the [Palestinian] state, and the release of prisoners.”
He said, “Frankly, it would be illogical to return to negotiations without meeting these conditions,” adding, “We have ordered the activation of the strategic alternative to negotiations represented by joining international institutions and organizations.”
A Palestinian source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Abbas is leaning towards resuming negotiations.
“His stance will become clearer in the meetings,” the source added.