Senior Palestinian officials involved with the peace talks with Israel said over the weekend that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, including the negotiating team, were deeply disappointed with the way the United States was promoting the talks.
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Palestinians feel that the United States was passively sponsoring the talks, the officials told Haaretz, and that the administration wasn't taking any positions that could pose a block to Israel, especially in relation to the continued settlement construction, including in East Jerusalem.
"Everyone remembers the active involvement of the secretary of state [John Kerry] on the eve of the renewing of the negotiations," a senior Palestinian official said. "The prevailing opinion among the leadership now is that Israel is acting freely and that the Americans weren't lifting a finger."
He added that "the expectation is that that which sponsors the negotiations should act as intermediary and mediator, which takes positions and acts on this matter, otherwise there is no way to move forward and everyone will reach a dead end."
Over the weekend it was reported that Palestinian negotiating team members Dr. Saeb Erekat and Dr. Mohamed Shtayyeh quit their positions. Haaretz discovered that resignation letters were in fact placed on the desk of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, but that he refused to accept the resignations.
In conversations Abbas held with Arab and Western officials over the weekend, Abbas attempted to dampen spirits and stressed that Palestinians would continue with the negotiations as planned for another nine months. That being said, Abbas also warned of the dangers that an unsuccessful negotiation could pose.
On Tuesday, Abbas will meet with Kerry in Bethlehem and will present him with the difficulties he is facing in the negotiations, especially the continued construction in the settlements and the fact that at the end of the negotiation period he will not have any major accomplishments to present the Palestinians with.
On Thursday, the PLO Executive Committee announced that the Palestinian leadership will take a number of steps over the next few days to protect the Palestinians' national interests in the face of the latest wave of construction in the settlements. In the statement issued at the end of an emergency meeting held in the Palestinian president's office in Ramallah, no details were given on what these steps would include. Though Palestinian officials said that was likely that the Palestinians would announce the stopping of negotiations or an appeal to United Nations bodies in response to the steps taken by the Israeli government over the past few days. "The Palestinian leadership will not hesitate to take any measure needed to protect the homeland and the rights of Palestine as a member of UN organizations," the official statement read.