Abbas Talks Tough in Face of Foreign Pressure to Renew Peace Talks With Israel

Kerry's proposal focuses on economic peace and cannot serve as basis for negotiations, Palestinian source tells Haaretz.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Arab states are trying to steamroll the Palestinians into accepting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's proposal for the renewal of peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian source close to the details told Haaretz.

Kerry, who met on Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, met again with Abbas on Monday at his Amman residence. The details of the Monday meeting were not shared, except that it focused on efforts to renew peace talks.

According to Palestinian sources, the meeting was a continuation of American efforts to pressure Abbas into renewing talks.

On Monday Haaretz reported that the second meeting with Abbas took place after the U.S. secretary of state secretly met with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho. A senior Israeli official said the three discussed ways to bridge the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas was also pressured by Britain to return to the negotiating table with Israel, the Palestinian source said. In a recent meeting between the two, he said, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Abbas about the ramifications of a Palestinian refusal to re-enter negotiations with Israel, saying that they may be seen as the party refusing to engage in talks.

In an aggressive speech delivered at the World Economic Forum, Abbas rejected the idea of temporary borders for the future Palestinian state. In private talks, Haaretz has learned, Abbas and his negotiating team complained that Kerry had not presented any formula that could satisfy them. Instead, they said, most of Kerry's proposals focused on "economic peace" and the large potential for investment in areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.

"Our assessment is that despite all efforts, the Israeli government did not relay to Kerry any serious proposal that could serve as a basis for negotiations," the source said. "Therefore, Abbas presented in his speech the Palestinian position opposing temporary borders and adopting again the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls upon Israel to withdraw to '67 borders and reminds Israel of previous agreements that it must honor." 

AP