Mahmoud Abbas is so eager to return to peace talks with Israel that he may soften his demands, according to a draft set of talking points prepared for the Palestinian president ahead of his meeting with US President Barack Obama on Thursday, the New York Times reports.
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The draft talking points were in an electronic document authored by NAD-Wajeeha. According to the NY Times, the initials are that of the authority’s Negotiations Affairs Department and are used in internal communications by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, along with the name of his assistant, Wajeeha.
"He can pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiations,” read one talking point, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "(He does not have to announce it.)"
Obama and Netanyahu on Wednesday (Photo: AFP)
Another talking point in the document suggests that Abbas should implore Obama to persuade Netanyahu to say that Israel’s 1967 borders could be the starting point for negotiations.
“I hope you can get Prime Minister Netanyahoo to say (two states on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps). He never said it,” reads one talking point. “I hope one day he will put his Map on the table as I did.”
According to the document, Abbas also appears set to reassure Obama that the Palestinian Authority will not use its new United Nations status to seek to press claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court unless Israel begins building a settlement in the sensitive area known as E1, central to the envisioned Palestinian state.
According to the talking points, as economic stagnation and low tax revenue have left the authority unable to pay its employees, Abbas may even suggest dissolving the Palestinian Authority and returning the West Bank to direct Israeli control if the two sides cannot make progress toward an independent Palestinian state.
In addition, the talking points suggest that Abbas tell Obama, “I am not threatening, I am sharing a fact with you. If this situation continues I will be forced to ask Prime Minister Netenyahoo to resume his responsibilities."
Netanyahu said Wednesday in a press conference with Obama in Jerusalem: "Israel remains fully committed to the solution of two states to two peoples. We extend our hand of peace to the Palestinian people."
Netanyahu expressed hope that Obama's visit would help Israel achieve peace with the Palestinians. "Let us sit down and negotiate without preconditions, let us bring peace."
Addressing the Palestinian issue, Obama said he did not want to make grand statements not matching the reality on the ground. He emphasized that he intended to listen first, before he spoke.
Obama stressed that it was in Israel's clear interest to establish a sovereign Palestinian state. He also noted the fact that the previous year did not see any Israeli killed in a West Bank terror attack.
Obama said this was a reminder that Israel has an interest in keeping a strong and stable Palestinian Authority." We must find the basis to build lasting trust on which such a peace can be based," he said.