Palestinian Affairs

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Palestinian Stance on Peace Process Creates Tension with State Department

Tension has developed between Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, with reports emerging that Kerry’s efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are being stifled by preconditions that Abbas insists must be fulfilled before he will return to the negotiating table.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is disappointed in the conduct of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said on Sunday after Kerry departed Israel following his latest attempt to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks… A senior Israeli diplomatic official said that “most of the American pressure is directed at [Abbas] right now.”

During his most recent trip to Israel, Kerry met with Netanyahu three times for a total of 13 hours. A senior Israeli diplomatic official said Netanyahu stuck to his position that there should be no preconditions for the renewal of negotiations. “[Abbas] presented to Kerry three conditions for the renewal of negotiations: the complete cessation of construction in Judea and Samaria, the release of all security prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo Accords and that talks on borders be based on the 1967 lines,” the Israeli official said.

Kerry recently concluded his fifth trip to the region focused on promoting talks, during which Israel offered a series of confidence-building measures that were rejected by Palestinian leaders. Evaluating the situation, a senior Palestinian official downplayed the chances that Kerry would succeed. The preemptive declarations of failure echo those made by Palestinian officials last May during a previous Kerry trip.

The personal strain between Kerry and Abbas may reflect similar, visible distance that emerged between President Barack Obama and the Palestinian leader during Obama’s trip to the region.

[Photo: RogDel / Wiki Commons]