Diplomacy

Reports: After Palestinian President Rejects U.S. Peace Proposals, Obama Intends to Up Pressure on Israeli PM

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly “exploded with rage” at Secretary of State John Kerry over what he termed “insane” proposals from Washington designed to facilitate a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, according to descriptions of a meeting between the two published in the leading Palestinian daily Al Quds and conveyed by The Times of Israel.

The top American diplomat reportedly offered for Abbas to form a Palestinian capital in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, not all of East Jerusalem, as the Palestinians have demanded. Kerry also suggested that Israel keep 10 settlement blocs as part of any territorial exchange, according to Al Quds, the most widely read Palestinian daily, on Wednesday.

The Jordan Valley would not be part of a future Palestinian state, Palestinian sources told the paper, nor would there be an international force stationed there. And Kerry reportedly demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Abbas is said to have been particularly incensed by terms relating to Jerusalem and to Israeli security needs along the border with Jordan, areas in which U.S. bridging proposal have been repeatedly rejected by top Palestinian figures, including by Abbas himself.

Palestinian leaders on Thursday also rejected U.S. moves to extend peace talks beyond a previously-set April deadline, a proposal aimed at providing the parties with more time to hammer out a final peace deal. Meanwhile The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama intends “to plunge back into” Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, most immediately by exerting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an upcoming Oval Office meeting.

“Now is a very timely opportunity for him to get involved,” a senior official said of Mr. Obama, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. If the two sides agree to the framework, which would set out general terms on issues like Israel’s security and the borders of a future Palestinian state, the negotiations could be extended, with a new target of completing a treaty by the end of 2014.

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