A delegation headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday afternoon and will present the Israeli premier with a missive from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the stalled peace talks.
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, who is expected to attend Tuesday meeting, told the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, Robert Serry, that the meeting’s goal is merely transferring Abbas’s message and that what is important is what happens afterwards.
In the missive, Abbas is expected to charge Netanyahu with draining the Palestinian Authority of all authority it gained in the agreements Israel and the PLO signed over the years. The message will stress that the current situation is unbearable and will demand that Netanyahu freeze all settlement construction and express publicly his willingness to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders.
Abbas will also demand that Netanyahu release Palestinian prisoners and return the situation in Area A to the way it was before September 2000, when the PA had full authority over civil and security-related matters. This would mean that the Israeli Defense Forces would stop entering Palestinian cities.
Palestinians: Willing to resume negotiations if demands are met
Abbas is expected to stress that he is willing to resume the negotiations immediately, once Israel accepts these demands. Abbas will stress that he opposes any and all violence and expects Israel in its turn to understand that settlement expansion erodes Palestinian faith in Israel’s intentions to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians.
If Israel is interested in a Palestinian state why is it building on its territory, Abbas is expected to ask.
Around Netanyahu expectations from the meeting are low. Netanyahu’s advisers refused to divulge any information about the meeting, including its time and place. At this time there is no intention of opening any part of the meeting to the media. Apparently, the Palestinians will hold their own press conference once they return to Ramallah.
According to persons close to Netanyahu, the Israeli premier will stress that he is interested in personally meeting with Abbas as soon as possible.
The sides are expected to set a date for a follow-up meeting, in Ramallah, between Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho and President Abbas. At this meeting Molcho will give Abbas Netanyahu’s response, which will include Netanyahu’s position on the Palestinian State’s borders and the security measures Israel will demand as a part of the final settlement with the Palestinians.
Fayyad: a reluctant messenger
Fayyad, who opposes the move, will attend the meeting because of heavy pressure from Abbas. According to a European diplomat and two senior Israeli officials, Fayyad recently stated in closed talks that transferring the missive to Netanyahu is worthless and is only a publicity stunt.
During the past week Fayyad tried to get out of heading the delegation. But after a number of telephone conversations with Abbas, who is currently overseas visiting several Asian countries, he agreed to take part.
Saeb Erekat denied any discord between Fayyad and Abbas over the move, saying that Fayyad will head the delegation as planned.
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