U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian leaders to discuss furthering peace talk plans with Israel. In the high level talks for Kerry’s peace proposal, Palestinian leaders demanded Israel to agree on a general border for a Palestinian state. Kerry presented his proposal to the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman before introducing it to West Bank Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian demand puts months of negotiations by the U.S. in Jeopardy because of heightened tensions. Israel has agreed to the consideration of talks while noting they will not consider preconditions from the Palestinians. President Obama has talked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to work with Kerry on the peace talks. John Kerry has been working on a formula to bring all parties to the table for a sustained negotiation for peace in the region.
The Palestinians specifically want to re-instate the cease-fire line. This component of the border talks had previously been a standing agreement from 1949 until 1967, between the two parties before the 1967 war. In that war Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the east part of Jerusalem. The Palestinians want those territories for establishing their state in the future. Initial talks were focused on land swaps and modifications that would allow Jewish settlements in that area to remain as an Israel state. However, negotiations broke down. John Kerry is planning to negotiate peace plans with Israel to restart talks.
The Israelis have come under pressure from European countries for increasing settlement construction on Palestinian land. The European Union banned funding of Israeli institutions operating in those territories since the war in a published document. “The Document released was meant to clarify the EU’s position and was not meant to harm efforts toward Mideast peace,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
John Kerry’s plan is not publicly known, but the Arab League has endorsed his proposal amid speculations that the Palestinians would agree to it. It is known that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas traditionally seeks out Arab brethren before making major diplomatic decisions. The hope that negotiations will resume is positive in western media circles.
“There are currently no plans for an announcement on the resumption of negotiations,” said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Kerry. Officials have downplayed the notion that negotiations will resume in the near future. In addition, an Israeli Cabinet minister commented that no deal was imminent.
John Kerry has been shuttling around the Mid-east for months trying to regenerate negotiations between the parties. “Secretary Kerry has done a tremendous job in trying to put both sides together,” said Israeli Cabinet minister Yair Laid. He was interviewed by the Associated Press on the state of current talk proposals. “Of course Israel is more than willing and has expressed its agreement to go back to the negotiation table, but apparently it’s going to take a little more time,” he said.
John Kerry continues to meet with high level officials to negotiate peace plans with Israel. With a strong coalition formulated for his plan, the possibility of restarting peace talks could materialize sooner than many observers have speculated.
By Thomas Barr