Palestinians Worry U.S. May Modify French Peace Plan for Israel's Sake

Just as it weakened criticism of Israel in a Quartet report issued last week, Washington may try to avert putting any diplomatic pressure that the Paris initiative would entail, a senior Palestinian official tells Haaretz.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat speaks in Ramallah on July 4, 2016.
Abbas Momani/AFP

Senior Palestinian Authority officials worry that the U.S. administration may seek to modify the French peace initiative to avert a risk of bringing international pressure to bear on Israel to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders..

The officials said the same American pressure seen as having moderated criticism of Israel in a Quartet report released last week, could happen too, in the case of the French initiative. 

“The French initiative is the only game now on the diplomatic field concerning the conflict with Israel, so we are adopting it and acting for it to succeed. But it is clear that the Americans will not lend a hand to this," a senior official told Haaretz.

"Despite all the declarations of senior [U.S.] administration officials, the fear is that in the moment of truth the initiative will not entail any measure that could pressure Israel, and that it will become another one of many documents that have not advanced the process over the past two decades.”

Since U.S. President Barack Obama took office in 2009,  the Palestinians have not succeeded in passing a single United Nations Security Council or any other international resolution, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization said Monday at a press conference in Ramallah.

Erekat spoke shortly after the PLO executive committee debated the Quartet's report at a meeting in Ramallah.

Erekat said the Palestinians may seek again to promote a Security Council resolution condemning the settlements, but that such a decision would require consultations with Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

Erekat strongly criticized the Quartet’s report: “If the goal of the report was for the Palestinians to accept the existing situation and aspire only to improve the economic state, then this is a mistaken goal and we reject it outright. The problems and human and economic distress of the Palestinian people stem from the occupation, so the solution is the end of the occupation.”

Officials close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel is trying to portray him as a supporter of terrorism and incitement, solely for political reasons. They rejected criticism about Abbas not condemning last week’s terrorist attacks, saying Israel is busier with declarative matters and less with the policies to prevent violence.

A senior PLO figure told Haaretz that it is not the job of Abbas or the Palestinian Authority to condemn each attack.

“In Israel, they are well aware of the fact  that behind all the incidents stand young people who made decisions on their own. This is not a hierarchical organization and [Abbas] has made his position clear concerning violence at a number of opportunities.”

As opposed to the lone-wolf attacks, the Israeli army has killed a number of young Palestinians and civilians not involved in violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not condemned these incidents although they were a consequence of military action and not an act of a private individual, the senior official said.

The official gave the example of the fatal shooting of a Palestinian youth in a vehicle on Route 443 two weeks ago.  

“We did not hear any condemnation from Netanyahu or his ministers even though those who opened fire were soldiers,” the official said.