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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kerry arrives back in Israel on Tuesday, 'Palestinians' still won't budge

With my nearly 14-year old son remembering the extra hour in the sun last Tisha b'Av and trying to make me commit that we won't stay at the Kotel any extra this year, US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday for more 'talks.' The 'Palestinians' are sticking to their preconditions.
Senior Palestinian Authority figures are set to meet Sunday evening in order to discuss the negotiations. According to reports, they plan to stick with the three main Palestinian preconditions for resuming direct talks: a cessation by Israel of all construction in the settlements, agreement on the 1967 lines as a basis for talks, and a release of 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails since before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Kerry, in an effort to restart peace talks, has been shuttling between the sides since taking office earlier this year. His efforts have narrowed the gaps but not generated new talks.
Israeli officials say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to release many of the pre-Oslo prisoners, most of whom have Israeli blood on their hands, but in phases, fearing that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would abandon the negotiations if all the prisoners went free at the outset.
He also reportedly agreed to several concessions in his talks with Kerry during Kerry’s last visit, including a construction freeze outside the major West Bank settlement blocs and a slowing down of building in East Jerusalem and inside the settlement blocs. Some of Kerry’s staff stayed behind to work with the Palestinian team in Ramallah on its demands and Israel’s responses.
However, Netanyahu has also repeatedly said that he would not accept any Palestinian preconditions before discussions, but is willing to discuss “all issues” at the negotiating table.
The last direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians broke down in 2010, having only briefly resumed at the tail end of a 10-month settlement freeze ordered by Netanyahu in November 2009.
What could go wrong?

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