Israel

Palestinian Leadership Rejects Kerry Proposal as Jordan Reportedly Backs Israeli Security Concerns

The Palestinian leadership today rejected a proposal presented by Secretary of State John Kerry designed to boost peace talks between them and their Israeli counterparts.

“The Palestinian side rejected them because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation,” the official said. Abbas was not immediately available after the Ramallah talks and did not join Kerry in his brief comments to reporters, but top negotiator Saeb Erekat said afterward that talks were “difficult and complicated.” “Abbas met Kerry for four hours… and discussed issues including security. We hope Israel will stick to its commitments and be forced to stop settlement building. Settlements are the reason for the difficulties in negotiations,” he told AFP

An anonymous official told Reuters that the Palestinians in particular rejected security arrangements aimed at assuring Jerusalem that stability would be maintained in the aftermath of an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank and the subsequent creation of a Palestinian state. Israel has insisted that it be allowed to maintain a medium-term presence in the geo-strategically critical Jordan Valley along the Israeli-Jordanian border, while Palestinians have demanded the opposite. The Times of Israel reported today that Jordan is siding with the Israelis.

A senior Israeli official told Maariv that Netanyahu is determined to finish building a security fence along the border with Jordan, a move Amman sees as important to its own security as well. Israel is worried about the proliferation, through Jordan, of arms to a future Palestinian state, which Jerusalem has insisted remain demilitarized. In a reference to his demands that Israel maintain a buffer zone in the Jordan Valley, Netanyahu said during a Knesset address in October that Israeli negotiators “will have to convince the Palestinians to adjust their demands to the circumstances around us.”

Both Amman and Jerusalem are known to be worried that a future Palestinian state would be unable to prevent extremists from moving materials and personnel back and forth across the Jordanian border. There is a growing Salafist presence in the West Bank, and it is not at all clear that Palestinian security forces would on their own be able to contain violent extremism in the territory.

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