Palestinian Leaders Prefer to Turn to UN Than Extend Peace Talks, Senior Official Says

Abbas is under pressure to resume unilateral action if Israel refuses to make concessions and peace talks fail to show progress.

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The Palestinian leadership is pessimistic about John Kerry’s upcoming visit and anticipates that the U.S. Secretary of State will try to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to extend the talks with Israel beyond the original nine-month deadline, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.

“Most of the Palestinian leadership, both from Fatah and from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, are opposed to extending the talks due to recognition that in recent months no progress has been achieved. On the contrary, Israel has continued massive construction in the settlements on one hand and has been demolishing Palestinian homes on the other,” the official said, “and that’s in addition to damage to property by the settlers and many other violations that have explicitly shown that Israel is not seeking an agreement.”

Fatah sources have said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will find it difficult to make a decision to extend the talks beyond their current April deadline unless he has a substantial accomplishment to show for the negotiations and would demand clear assurances from the Americans.

“Most of the leadership is urging Abbas to turn to the United Nations,” the source said, referring to the Palestinian desire to enhance its status in the international organization, “and without a show of progress such as an Israeli commitment to suspend settlement [construction] or a recognition of the 1967 borders and a release of prisoners [beyond the four agreed upon phases], it would be impossible to get consent for continued negotiations beyond April.”

At an event on Tuesday marking the 49th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, the Palestinian president referred to negotiating pressures and the Israeli demand for a continued presence in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank as part of a peace accord.

“The sons of the Palestinian revolution and of the Palestinian people will not hesitate for a moment to say ‘no’ to an Israeli presence in Palestine despite the pressures or proposals that are contrary to the Palestinian national principles,” he said.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas with his peace negotiator Saeb Erakat.Credit: AFP