As Palestinian president prepares for his Washington visit, the next step of peace effort with Israel, looks far from certain.
Four Palestinian factions on Saturday urged President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from the ongoing peace talks with Israel, and announce the US-brokered efforts a failure.
“Accepting the plan of (American Secretary of State John) Kerry to sign the framework peace deal is like committing a suicide, and this plan has many dangerous consequences on the Palestinian cause and our people’s legitimate rights,” read the press release put out jointly by the Democratic Front to Liberate Palestine, the Palestinian National Initiative Party, the Peoples’ Party and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
As Abbas prepares to touch down in Washington for a meeting on Monday with his American counterpart Barack Obama, an extension of peace talks with Israel looks far from certain.
Palestinian and Israeli leaders have been locked in talks US Secretary of State John Kerry fought hard to launch in July after a three-year hiatus, but as negotiations have faltered, Israel has kicked up more obstacles to a peace deal that would end decades of conflict.
Kerry hopes the two sides will agree on a US-proposed framework to guide final status negotiations, before the impending deadline for the current round of talks on 29 April.
But he is aware of the danger posed to talks by a recently-concocted Israeli demand – that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state – and came out strongly against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emphasis on it, just days before Abbas’s visit.
The stumbling block of recognition
“‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in [UN] Resolution 181 where there are more than 30 to 40 mentions of ‘Jewish state,’” Kerry testified at a Congressional hearing Thursday, adding late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had already accepted the idea of a Jewish state in principle.
“I think it’s a mistake for some people to be raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude toward the possibility of a state and peace, and we’ve obviously made that clear,” Kerry said, referring to repeated statements by Netanyahu, who himself visited the White House on 3 March.
Current Palestinian leaders have opposed recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, fearing this could threaten the rights of non-Jewish Arabs living in Israel, who make up some 20% of the population, as well as other religious minorities.
And even without the “Jewish state” stumbling block, it is unclear whether the Palestinians would accept an extension of negotiations, with Abbas saying cautiously that they will only decide if the US framework is acceptable once they have seen it.
“Until now, we haven’t received the framework agreement we were promised,” Abbas said at a Thursday news conference alongside visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“When the framework is presented to us, we’ll give our opinion on it,” Abbas said.
“We have never discussed prolonging the negotiations at all, nor was it offered to us,” he added.
Both Kerry and Cameron cited what they said was deep “mistrust” between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but expressed hope Abbas and Netanyahu would soldier on towards an elusive peace deal.
Ya’alon slams Abbas
Also Saturday, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voiced his skepticism regarding the very possibility of reaching a peaceful settlement to the long-standing conflict, at least while Abbas has the reins of power in the Authority.
“I’ve discovered this conflict is about the entire Palestine, they don’t recognize our right to exist here … it is impossible to make an agreement without there being recognition on the other side of our right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” the official was quoted by the Ynet news site as saying.
“Abbas is a partner that receives but not a partner that gives. He’s not a partner for a final accord that ends with the recognition of the State of Israel,” Ya’alon further added.
View original i24NEWS publication at: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/140315-palestinian-factions-urge-abbas-to-quit-talks