U.S. Warns PA Over Leaks From Quartet Talks

Details of two proposals by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat to Quartet made public on Thursday; Senior U.S. official says only proposals presented in direct talks with Israel are relevant.

The U.S. government has asked senior Palestinian officials to refrain from leaking details of tripartite talks that took place recently between Middle East Quartet envoys, Israeli representatives and the Palestinian Authority.

According to a senior U.S. official, the three bodies agreed that the content of the talks would remain confidential.

Saeb Erekat - 6.7.11
Natasha Mozgovaya

"Quartet members and parties have agreed to preserve confidentially in their discussions. So frankly, we're somewhat disturbed by the fact that many of these details have appeared in the press," the official said.

The Palestinians presented the Quartet with two documents relating to the borders of a future Palestinian state and security arrangements with Israel in November, but the Quartet told the Palestinians that the documents would not be passed to Israel, according to the official.

Quartet representatives told head PA negotiator Saeb Erekat that the proposals he presented were not relevant, because they had not been presented in direct talks with Israel, the official said.

"We continue to call for a direct exchange between the parties, starting with the preparatory meeting that leads to a presentation of proposals on territory and security. And that objective has not been met, but we're continuing to work toward that," the official said.

The Americans have expressed displeasure with the Palestinians over their refusal to engage in face-to-face talks with Israel.

Changing the rules

The Obama administration sees the Palestinian strategy of presenting proposals to the Quartet without engaging in direct talks as an attempt to change the rules of the game. On December 13 and 14, Quartet envoys will once again hold separate meetings with Erekat, and Israeli negotiator Isaac Molho.

Haaretz reported on Thursday that Erekat presented Quartet representatives with two documents on November 14 that contained the Palestinian proposals. One document proposed the borders of a Palestinian state based on 1967 lines, but also indicated a willingness to swap 1.9 percent of West Bank territory with Israel.

The second document dealt with security arrangements and included the Palestinians' consent to an international peacekeeping force on the Israeli border and in the Jordan Valley.