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Are Israel, PA finally set to resume peace talks?

Jerusalem sees Kerry's recent whistle-stop tour in Mid-East as proof of his determination to bring about resumption of Israel-PA talks. Meanwhile in Ramallah, pessimism reigns 'Problem is Netanyahu, not Kerry'

Will Israeli and Palestinian representatives finally be heading back to the negotiating table? That depends on who you ask.


On the backdrop of US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the region, officials expressed hope that negotiations would resume in the "not so distant future."


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However, sources in Jerusalem who are well versed in the American efforts to renew negotiations refused to commit to a date for the resumption of talks.

פרס והמזכיר קרי אתמול בבית הנשיא (צילום: מארק ניימן, לע"מ)

Kerry with Peres (Photo: GPO)


They did note that their impressions from the meetings Kerry held in Israel was that "both sides are more ready to renew negotiations. It isn't clear when talks will resume, but there's a sense that both sides are more prepared for the understandings that will allow a return to negotiations."


On Monday Kerry met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni .


The meeting was longer than originally planned, but it remains unclear whether any progress was made.


The Prime Minister's Bureau said "Regional issues and methods of renewing talks with the Palestinian Authority were discussed." Kerry will meet with Netanyahu again on Tuesday.


Following US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel, Netanyahu refrained from expressing any harsh criticism of Palestinian President Abbas, and with Kerry hoping to promote a resumption of negotiations, Israel is seeking to present the perception that the problem rests in Ramallah and not in Jerusalem.


Netanyahu has refrained, as he has previously done, from presenting any preliminary demands but diplomatic sources last weekend rejected Abbas' demand to present maps which will include the borders presented in the permanent agreement.


Kerry is now trying to put together an incentives package that would encourage Palestinians to return to the negotiation table.

קרי נפגש שלשום עם אבו מאזן (צילום: EPA)

Kerry with Abbas (Photo: EPA)


Official sources noted Monday night that "there is no doubt that Kerry is determined to renew negotiations. He intends to visit the region often, and he isn't here to waste his time… There is a sense that talks will resume, though the 'when' remains unclear."


Kerry who mediated the reconciliation with Turkey is still waiting to see the fruits of his labors. After Marmara passengers announced that they would not rescind their legal suits even if compensation is awarded, it has been revealed that the meeting between Israeli and Turkish teams on Normalization of ties has been postponed to April 22 after the Turks sought to put off the meeting.


Meanwhile in Ramallah, pessimism rules; while the Palestinian leadership is happy with the role changes within the US administration, Ramallah is still pessimistic over the possibility of talks resuming.


A Palestinian official involved in the negotiations told Ynet that the Palestinian leadership is still committed to talks held with the US Secretary of State but claims that the real problem is the lack of trust towards the prime minister. "The problem isn't Kerry, it's Netanyahu," he stated.


The Palestinians believe that Kerry is trying to put together a trust building "Israeli gestures" package with gestures that include implementing Palestinian projects in Area C which is under complete Israeli control as well as American financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority which is currently in a severe economic slump.


Yet according to the official, the Palestinians are not satisfied with minor Israeli gestures – they insist that they are interested in two major issues and only when those issues are addressed will they return to the negotiation table: A settlement freeze and recognition of the Two State solution based on the 67' borders.


"The fact that we are seeking recognition based on the 67' borders doesn't mean that we are demanding that the borders of the future Palestinian state merge with those borders. This is why the principle of land exchanges is acceptable to us," the source clarified.


The Palestinian official hinted that should Israel make significant gestures towards the Palestinians, such as the reopening of Orient House in east Jerusalem, then it is possible that (these steps) would indicate a change in tone which would lead Palestinians to renew talks, even without preliminary demands.


Elior Levi contributed to the report



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פרסום ראשון: 04.09.13, 08:50
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