Security cabinet member says Israel, Palestinians nowhere near renewal of peace talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returns to Jerusalem, meets with PM for third meeting in two days; Palestinian official: 'All Netanyahu's rhetoric about two states seems meaningless since he did not mention 1967.'
In his efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing on with shuttle diplomacy. Kerry arrived for the second time in 24 hours to Jerusalem Saturday afternoon after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.
Kerry is meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 9:00 P.M. at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem – the third meeting between the two in 48 hours.
Likud minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the diplomatic-security cabinet, said just before the meeting that according to the information he has, the sides are nowhere near restarting negotiations. In an interview on Channel 2's Meet the Press," Erdan said that Abbas "is still demanding the same preconditions that we have no intention of complying with."
A senior Palestinian official privy to the details of Friday's meeting between Abbas and Kerry said he was pessimistic that the secretary of state's visit would bring about a breakthrough in negotiations.
According to the official, during the meeting with Abbas and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Kerry spoke about formulas – but none of them met the Palestinians' primary demand that talks be based on 1967 borders and the release of prisoners: "Kerry didn't tell us anything new, and I do not know if we will have another meeting this week," Erekat said to his aides after the meeting.
The Palestinians also made clear that they cannot return to the negotiating table without a clear definition of where talks will lead. "All Netanyahu's rhetoric about two states seems meaningless since he did not mention 1967."
The report of Kerry's meeting with Abbas in Palestinian media was only a short item, a formality that didn't provide any details.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and special envoy to negotiations Yitzhak Molcho will participate in the meeting between Netanyahu and Kerry. Kerry is still trying to come up with a draft that will enable the four-way peace summit in Amman with Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S. and Jordan. A senior Israeli official said earlier Saturday that "there is a high probability a four-way summit will take place, perhaps as soon as this week."
Kerry is expected to leave the region Sunday morning to kick off an ASEAN Regional Forum in the Brunei Sultanate. Before leaving, Kerry is expected to hold a press conference at Ben-Gurion Airport where he will provide updates on his progress with the two sides. Kerry had planned to hold the conference today, however postponed it in order to conduct another round of talks with both Abbas and Netanyahu.