Palestinian official slams US' "passive" role in peace talks
A Palestinian official has said that the US is acting as an observer, not a mediator, in the peace talks with the Israelis. (AFP/File)
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U.S. envoys facilitating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are acting more like passive observers than mediators, a Palestinian official said.
This gives the impression Israeli officials can do whatever they want, especially regarding settlement construction, the Palestinian official told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The State Department had no immediate comment.
Palestinian sources told the newspaper they expected Abbas would express his disappointment that Israel continues building settlements in occupied territory and ask for Washington to pressure Israel to halt the settlement expansion.
The sources said they also expected Abbas would ask Kerry for Washington to present guidelines for a permanent agreement before the nine-month negotiation period ends in March.
Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi told the newspaper any proposed peace plan that lacks a timetable and isn't termed a permanent solution would not be accepted by the Palestinians.
"Israeli conduct throughout the years has proven that whatever is defined as a temporary stage becomes permanent and cannot lead anywhere, therefore the feeling among the Palestinian leadership is that Israel is doing its best to force us to leave the negotiating table," she said.
The timetable must include resolution of so-called core issues, the Palestinian official told the newspaper.
The Middle East core issues are usually defined as borders, Jerusalem, security, refugees and recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
"The Palestinian position is that any agreement must be based on the 1967 borders, and once that is agreed upon we understand that one cannot evacuate settlements within 24 hours," the official said. "Therefore, one can discuss a timetable; if we get to the point of discussing timetables it would mean significant progress, but we aren't there yet."
Washington has proposed a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the creation of a non-militarized Palestinian state based on Israel's borders before the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war that led to Israel's West Bank and Gaza occupation. The borders would be modified by land swaps.
PLO officials told Haaretz the possibility of a permanent agreement was raised during the talks that led to the renewal of negotiations, but Israel did not agree to that principle.
The officials also said there will be no peace breakthrough as long as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not agree to the prewar borders and continues to talk about maintaining Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
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