The US has given the Palestinian Authority assurances that it will reject any Israeli proposals to establish a Palestinian state with provisional borders as part of an interim agreement, a senior Palestinian official was quoted on Sunday as telling the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
After US secretary of State John Kerry’s whirlwind round of shuttle diplomacy which lasted months, Israeli and Palestinian officials are due in Washington this week to kick off the latest round of peace negotiations.
According to Al-Hayat, Kerry promised PA President Mahmoud Abbas that Washington would oppose any Israeli attempt to avoid a final-status deal in favor of an interim arrangement. The senior Palestinian official was also quoted as saying that Ramallah would initially aim to come to agreement with Israel on the contours of a Palestinian state.
The US has promised the Palestinians that Israel would not carry out any “provocative” actions regarding settlements during the peace talks which are expected to resume in Washington this week.
The PA’s official daily newspaper Al-Ayyam also quoted Palestinian sources on Sunday as saying that the renewed talks would be based on the 1967 “borders” with agreed land swaps. The paper said that the Palestinian negotiating team would be headed by chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and top Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh.
The PA will not engage Israel in peace negotiations if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government does not release 104 Palestinian Arab prisoners who have been jailed for terrorist offenses, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official told Israel Radio on Sunday.
Qadura Fares, a veteran Fatah leader who also serves as president of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, also said that the PA will not agree to banish any of the freed prisoners to either Gaza or a foreign country.
Fares told Israel Radio that PA President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to a release of the prisoners in four stages beginning in the second month into peace negotiations with Israel that are due to resume this week in Washington. None of the prisoners are likely to be released before Eid al-Fitr, the ceremonial feast that marks the end of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, Fares said.
Among the 104 prisoners that are likely to be released are 14 Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as six Palestinians residing in east Jerusalem. Twenty six prisoners are from Gaza and the rest originate from Judea and Samaria.
Kerry phoned Abbas on Friday and informed him of the Israeli government’s decision to release Palestinian prisoners.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said that Kerry told the PA president that US President Barack Obama’s administration fully supports the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
During a meeting with Palestinian journalists in Ramallah, Abbas was quoted as saying that Palestinians should expect “good news” on Sunday regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Abbas refused to elaborate, but told the journalists: “Follow the Israeli media on Sunday and you will hear good news on the prisoners.”
Abbas reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and said the Palestinians were keen on the success of the peace process.