Agence France-Presse last Friday conveyed statements from Palestinian leaders rejecting U.S. bridging proposals, presented by Secretary of State John Kerry during several recent trips to the region, designed to balance Israeli security requirements with Palestinian demands for autonomy in the context of final status negotiations.
After meeting Kerry in Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, Abbas rejected US proposals for Israel to keep troops in a future Palestinian state along its strategic border with Jordan. “President Abbas has rejected the ideas presented by the secretary of state,” a Palestinian source said on Friday. Abbas also handed Kerry a letter laying down “Palestinian red lines”, the source added, singling out “the refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state”.
For his part Kerry told reporters last Friday that he remains optimistic that Washington can facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of April 2014 – within the nine-month period that the State Department had originally set for reaching an accord – and implied that Israel would be expected to conduct a prisoner release in order to boost peace talks. The release would be the third aimed at boosting the current round of talks.
“Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that,” Kerry told reporters after separate discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on his overseas trip…”We remain hopeful that we can achieve that final status agreement,” Kerry said. “Why? Because we are absolutely confident that for both sides, and the region at large, peace can bring enormous benefits.”
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