London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Asharq Al-Awsat has learned details relating to the reaction of the Palestinian leadership in the moments following US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton statement, in which she invited Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to direct negotiations in Washington on 2 September 2010. In her declaration, which does not refer to the subsequent International Quartet statement, Clinton clarified that the negotiations will take place without preconditions.
Asharq Al-Awsat can reveal that President Abbas was furious upon hearing the statement. Informed sources say that President Abbas was enraged to the extent that he asked Presidency Media Spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudaynah to contact US Peace Envoy George Mitchell directly, to express his anger.
According to the same sources, the US officials were both confused [at this reaction], and afraid that “the situation would get out of hand”. Therefore they contacted President Abbas three times, in less than one hour, in an attempt to alleviate his anger and explain the situation, so that he would not be opposed to participating in the September negotiations. As a result of this, a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee was delayed, which was dedicated to discussing a response to the invitation, and the issue of participation in the upcoming negotiations. The negotiations will be conducted under the auspices of U.S. President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian Monarch King Abdullah II, both of whom accepted the invitation, in addition to International Quartet Envoy Tony Blair.
Furthermore, Asharq Al-Awsat learned that President Abbas asked Saeb Erekat, in his capacity as Chief Palestinian Negotiator, to send written letters to the United States requesting that other parties are invited to attend [the upcoming negotiations]. These parties included, amongst others, the members of the International Quartet (the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia), Turkey and Brazil, and others. In this regard, the Washington meeting would resemble the Annapolis conference, which former US President George Bush hosted in November 2007.