Palestinian Sources Play Down Rumors: Abbas Won't Resume Negotiations Until Israel Accepts Our Terms

Neither Israel nor the U.S. has presented Palestinian leaders with a viable initiative, top PA officials tell Haaretz.

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Despite the international pressure on the Palestinian Authority to resume the peace talks with Israel, Palestinian leaders have yet to be presented with a viable formula that would entice them to return to the negotiating table, senior Palestinian officials who are involved in the process said on Thursday.

The sources told Haaretz that as long as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry does not produce an initiative that would lead to a renewal of the talks, the Palestinians do not intend to embark on what they called "a new adventure of pointless negotiations" that will only exacerbate the anger and frustration among Palestinians.

"We don't want to be viewed as those who refuse to cooperate or seek to foil Kerry's efforts, which is why the Palestinian leadership agrees to continue the process and give talks another chance every time," one senior Palestinian official said. "However, the Palestinians would only agree to return to the negotiating table if they are provided with clear answers vis-à-vis the talks, which have to be based on the '67 borders and the release of prisoners – a formula that Israel still refuses to accept."

According to this official, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is following the internal debate in Israel with regard to renewing negotiations on the basis of the Arab peace initiative. Nevertheless, the official said, Abbas could not submit the PLO with a proposal for renewed talks without any assurances.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, told Haaretz that the committee has not convened recently and that no new decisions have been made regarding the process.

According to Palestinian sources, Western diplomats who have met with Abbas in recent days have gotten the sense that he is committed to the resumption of talks – a commitment that would suggest the Palestinians are will to give up their preconditions. However, a later meeting of the Fatah central committee and members of the Palestinian Authority's negotiating team clarified that there is still no basis for the renewal of the talks. The Palestinians are angry and disappointed that neither Kerry nor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought forth an initiative that would facilitate the renewal of the talks. On the contrary, statements by senior Israeli officials, including cabinet ministers, have been detrimental to such a development.

Meanwhile, a senior source in Jerusalem expressed doubts over Abbas’ intentions to renew the dialogue with Israel. According to this source, the Palestinian president began negotiations on two occasions during Netanyahu’s term, and both times he had led to a blow-up within weeks. “The question is not whether the Palestinians will resume negotiations, but rather whether these will be serious, without looking for the first excuse to bolt from the table," said the source.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday April 7, 2013.Credit: AP

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