Palestinians Tell Kerry Beating ISIS Requires End to Israeli Occupation

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds meeting with Palestinian President Abbas, says White House will continue to work towards a two-state solution until Obama leaves office.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a hotel in Paris, France, July 30, 2016.
Thaer Ghanaim, AP

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris Saturday and promised the Palestinian leader that the Obama administration would continue to strive to restart the peace process until the end of its term, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a press conference.

Meeting with Abbas in Paris following the summit with Kerry, which the Americans deemed a "success," Erekat said that the Palestinians remain committed to the new French peace initiative.

He also linked the international battle against ISIS to the Israeli occupation and urged the international community to stop what he deemed Israeli aggression, even saying that "those who murder children in Europe in the name of religion are no different than those who murder children on Palestine's land."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with PLO head Saeb Erekat, Paris, France, July 30, 2016.
Francois Mori, AP

Erekat said that Kerry promised Abbas that he and Obama would continue to attempt to restart the peace process until they leave office. According to Erekat, the international community, especially Russia and the U.S., are preoccupied with Syria and Iraq. He said that any attempt to rebuild alliances in the Middle East that does not include a Palestinian state will be lacking and unstable.

Erekat said that any attempt to renew talks between the two sides requires Israel to make good on its past commitments and will require international presence to monitor their implementation to prevent what he described as Israel's evasion of negotiations and blatant increments of past agreements.

He also said that any renewal of negotiations requires a complete freeze in settlement construction and the release of the fourth tranche of Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israel jail from the time before the Oslo Accords, as per an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians during the last round of peace talks in 2014.

He also blasted calls by Israeli officials to change the Arab Peace Initiative, saying the initiative was clear and that Israel would enjoy full normalization of its ties with Arab countries if it left the territories it occupied during the Six Day War. He also added that the Palestinians were working with the Egyptians, whose foreign minister recently visited Israel, on renewing the peace process, especially in regards to laying out a timeframe and international oversight.