Kerry making full court press as Bennett threatens coalition crisisextended his ticket in Amman hoping to bring about the 'resumption' of 'negotiations' between Israel and the 'Palestinians.'
US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to travel to the West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, US and Palestinian officials said, in a last-ditch effort to clinch a renewal of peace talks with Israel.
Kerry met Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman on Friday and had been consulting Israeli officials by telephone, a US official said, but did not say if a breakthrough was near.
A State Department official in Amman said Kerry would go to Ramallah in the afternoon to see Abbas, but did not disclose his proposals to revive peace talks that broke down in 2010.The 'Palestinians' feel 'pressured' to make a decision (after all these years), so they've done what they learned best from the West: They've formed a committee.
After two separate meetings, Palestinian officials said they decided to send top negotiator Saeb Erekat to meet with Kerry "and inform him that the PA requires guarantees regarding the general borders," PLO official Wasel Abu Yussef said.
Yussef said Erekat would also ask Kerry for more clarifications on what Israel expects from the negotiations, adding that the Palestinians did not want to reject Kerry's efforts to restart the peace talks outright.
Another Palestinian official who was present at the meeting said the committee members decided they did not want to be "pressured into making a decision."
The Palestinians have decided to form a committee to further review Kerry's proposal. Secretary-General of the PLO's Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo, who will head the committee, told Israel Hayom that Abbas might meet with Kerry, as well as with King Abdullah of Jordan, again, before making his final decision on the matter.
"We greatly appreciate U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts and tenacity but his current proposal does not bode well for the future of the negotiations," Fatah spokesman Amin Maqbul said in a statement.
According to Maqbul, the proposal lacked the "proper incentives" for the Palestinians to resume talks and failed to meet "Fatah's demands for a full and immediate suspension of all settlement expansion, the release of Palestinian prisoners who were jailed prior to the Oslo Accords and basing the negotiations on the 1967 borders."
The Prime Minister's Office has denied that Israel has agreed to base the negotiations on the 1949 armistice lines (which are commonly referred to as the 1967 borders), but that hasn't stopped members of his coalition from preemptively attacking any such deal.
Maqbul's statement stressed that "unless provided with explicit guarantees, the Palestinians will not resume the peace talks."
“Bayit Yehudi under my leadership will not be a partner, even for a second, in a government that agrees to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 lines,” he said. “Our capital Jerusalem is not and never will be negotiated.”
Bennett issued the threat even though he knew that Netanyahu had denied a Reuters report that he had agreed to American understandings that 1967 lines would be the basis for talks.
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said that despite Netanyahu’s denial, Bennett could not ignore that the armistice lines were on the agenda.
“Naftali had to reassure his constituency that he has red lines,” a source close to Bennett said. “He had to make his position clear, in case someone believes he would actually be a part of a government that would negotiate on that basis.”
Hours before Bennett issued his threat, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich again pledged her Labor Party’s support for Netanyahu’s peace efforts in the event that Bayit Yehudi would threaten to leave the government.It would be bitterly ironic (and sad) if Netanyahu went to talks based on the 1949 armistice lines because Bayit Yehudi insisted that Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party should be in the coalition rather than the Haredi parties (who would have gone along with saying no).
Meanwhile Likud's Zeev Elkin has a blunt message for Netanyahu.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin said Friday to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders would be "suicidal".
"A negotiation in which you first say what you are willing to give up ... is not the kind of negotiation that leads to good results in the Middle East," Elkin told Israel Radio.What could go wrong?