Israel ‘unmoved’ by threat of US disengagement from peace process
Senior Israeli diplomatic official: Palestinian preconditions thwarting renewal of peace talks • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to AJC conference: What happens in coming days will dictate what happens in coming decades • Kerry to visit again next week.
Yoni Hirsch, Shlomo Cesana and News Agencies
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he speaks at a American Jewish Committee conference in Washington on Monday | Photo credit: AP
A senior Israeli diplomatic official in Jerusalem has told Israel Hayom that he “refused to be moved” by a Reuters report on Monday that quoted a senior U.S. official as saying the U.S. government would abandon its efforts to advance the peace process if it determined that Israel and the Palestinians were not serious about the matter.
On Monday, the U.S. official told Reuters, “There are too many things going on in the world … You could bang your head on this for years and years and years.”
According to the Israeli official, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has not presented a formal peace plan, but rather has offered a number of proposals to renew negotiations between the sides. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy Itzhak Molcho, is responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians, met with Kerry in Washington on Monday.
Kerry plans to visit the Middle East again next week, in what will be his fifth trip to the region since becoming secretary of state in February. Expected stops on the trip include Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. During a trip to the region last month, Kerry said, “We are reaching the time where leaders need to make hard decisions.”
Speaking Monday after a meeting with Polish Foreign Radek Sikorski in Washington, Kerry said he would need to make a judgment at some point on whether the process is moving too slowly but that he was “confident about the energy and effort that is going into thinking through the road ahead.”
Israel has repeatedly said it is ready to return to peace talks, but that the preconditions demanded by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are thwarting the renewal of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Monday, Abbas told Saudi newspaper Al-Watan that the PA “would not return to negotiations” unless Israel agreed to a settlement freeze and accepted a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders. He said Israeli intransigence on this issue was preventing the diplomatic process from moving forward. The PA president told Al-Watan he was committed to east Jerusalem — captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — as the future capital of the Palestinian state, and that there was “no room to compromise” on this.
In a speech at an American Jewish Committee conference in Washington on Monday, Kerry talked about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying that the next few days will determine what happens in the future.