The Palestinian Authority has said it will launch an initiative on Sunday to restart peace talks, but Israel’s Netanyahu Government has already poured cold water on the idea.
The maneuvers come less than a week after a ceasefire in the 50-day Israeli war with Gaza.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (pictured with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) will present the initiative to Arab Foreign Ministers in Cairo, according to his advisor Mahmoud al-Habbash. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the head of the Authority’s intelligence service, Majed Faraj, are travelling to Washington to brief US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Habbash said the plan envisages a full Israeli withdrawal to the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank, within three years:
The talks will begin with the borders, during which time there will be a freeze of settlement construction and the release of the fourth and final batch of prisoners incarcerated before the signing of the Oslo Accords, who were supposed to be freed last March.
An “Israeli Government official” dismissed the Palestinian move unless the Authority broke from the Gazan leadership of Hamas.
The official claimed the Authority’s inability to confront Hamas terrorism and its political alliance with Hamas in a unity government announced in April “remain serious problems”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended negotiations with the Authority after the declaration of the unity government.
West Jerusalem has already put up a barrier to renewed talks, announcing on Sunday that it is seizing another 4 square kilometers of land in the West Bank for possible expansion of Jewish settlements.
Anticipating West Jerusalem’s response, Habbash said that the Palestinians will resort to “diplomatic and political measures to impose peace” if the Abbas initiative is not accepted.
Options include joining international treaties and conventions, such asth e Rome Statute as a first step towards membership in the International Criminal Court.
The Israeli Government official warned, “If we go back to the same old game –– exploiting automatic majority in the UN for one-sided resolutions condemning Israel –– that is obviously not a mood that would be conducive to moving forward,” he said.
Kerry Protests to Netanyahu Over Israel’s “Land Grab” in West Bank
Washington has continued its high-profile hostile reaction to Israel’s seizure of 4 square kilometers of Palestinian land in the West Bank on Sunday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early Wednesday over Israel’s declaration of “state land” in Gush Etzion, the largest seizure in the West Bank in 30 years.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has had several meeting with senior Israeli officials to express the Obama Administration’s anger. A “senior US official” said Washington is upset that “Israel didn’t update us in advance and surprised us with this decision.”
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki called on Israel to reverse the move, saying it was a “very troubling message…contrary to Israel’s stated goal of a two-state solution.”
European Governments, including the European Union, Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, joined the denunciation.