Netanyahu, Fayyad to meet in Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, KHALED ABU TOAMEH 04/17/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet Palestinian Authority
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the highest-
level meeting between the two sides in nearly 20 months, and the
first ever meeting between the two men.
Fayyad, who will be leading a delegation that will include chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is expected to deliver a letter
to Netanyahu calling for negotiations as long as Israel stops all
settlement construction, accepts the June 5, 1967 lines as the basis
of a future agreement and releases Palestinian prisoners held before
the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Netanyahu has long rejected these preconditions for negotiations.
Within days of the delivery of this letter, Netanyahu’s chief
negotiator Yitzchak Molcho is expected to meet PA President Mahmoud
Abbas and present him with Israel’s response.
Israeli officials on Monday played down Tuesday’s meeting, even
though it is the highest-level meeting since September 2010, and said
that no one believes that it will lead to any kind of diplomatic
breakthrough. One official said that Abbas is dispatching Fayyad to
the meeting, instead of going himself, because he still refuses to
negotiate with Netanyahu. Abbas broke off the talks in September 2010
just a few weeks after they began because of an Israeli refusal to
extend a 10-month settlement construction moratorium after it elapsed.
The two sides last met in Jordan at the end of January, culminating a
month of lower-level discussions that went nowhere.
No joint press opportunity is expected following Tuesday’s meeting,
and neither the time nor location of the meeting in Jerusalem has
Amid rumors that Abbas might threaten to dissolve the PA if Israel
did not accept his preconditions for talks, he reiterated Sunday that
dismantling the PA was not an option. He also dismissed calls for
halting security coordination between the PA and Israel.
Abbas, who was speaking to Palestinian journalists accompanying him
on a visit to Thailand and Japan, said that “while there many reasons
why the Palestinian Authority was being weakened, dissolving it is
not an option.”
Abbas dismissed as “cheap bidding” demands by Hamas and some
Palestinian groups to halt security coordination between the PA and
“When we have security, this is in our interest,” Abbas said.
“Security coordination is not for one side only, but also for
Palestinian territories. We are keen on security coordination because
we want security for Palestinians.”
The PA president accused Israel of making the two-state solution
impossible by pursuing construction in the settlements.
“But as far as we are concerned, the two-state solution remains the
first and final option. Settlements are illegal and they will remain
Abbas blamed the Arab countries for the severe financial crisis
facing the PA. He noted that the Arabs have yet to fulfill their
financial promises to support the Palestinians.
His comments about security coordination with Israel drew sharp
criticism from Hamas, whose spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused the PA
of providing Israel with security services for free.
“Continued security coordination poses a grave threat to the
Palestinian cause and the interests of the Palestinians,” Abu Zuhri
charged, urging Abbas to halt the coordination with Israel.
Meanwhile, Fayyad said Monday that the Jordan Valley was an integral
part of the Palestinian territories.
“The Jordan Valley is not for rent or trade,” Fayyad declared during
a ceremony inaugurating a water dam in the Jericho area. “There will
be no Palestinian state without the Jordan Valley,” Fayyad
emphasized. “The same as there will be no state without the Gaza
Strip and east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Netanyahu has said repeatedly that there will be no accord without an
Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley, and that the
revolutions throughout the Arab world only strengthen the need for
there to be such a presence along the Jordan River.
In a related development, the United States will continue to oppose
Palestinian attempts to gain statehood recognition at the UN, and if
necessary will use its veto to that end, US Ambassador to Israel
Daniel Shapiro said Monday.
Speaking at the Netanya Academic College, Shapiro said that there
were no shortcuts to peace in the Middle East, and that the
Palestinians must return to direct negotiations with Israel without
preconditions, on the basis of what was outlined by US President
Barack Obama. In a May 2011 speech, Obama said a
future “nonmilitarized” Palestinian state should “be based on 1967
lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 04/17/12)
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