Thursday, Aug. 22
Latest News
  1. Palestinian goverment: 26 million in development of ministries
  2. Rudeineh: Washington us unable to achieve anything by itself
  3. US: “No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of the West Bank"
  4. Cluster of incendiary balloons land in southern Israel
  5. Palestinian FM condemns Germany's vote to define BDS as 'anti-Semitic'
  6. Israeli forces forcibly evict Muslim worshipers from Al-Aqsa
  7. Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah
  8. Erekat: Deviation from peace terms of reference doomed to fail
  9. Iceland's Hatari shocks Eurovision with Palestinian flags
  10. UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp

Palestinian leaders 'to vote on talks with Israel'

July 18, 2013 4:04 P.M. (Updated: July 18, 2013 6:10 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Palestinian leaders will vote Thursday on a US plan under which peace talks with Israel will not depend on a settlement ban, a key Palestinian demand, a PLO official said.

The vote by the Palestinian leadership comes after US Secretary of State John Kerry reported a narrowing of the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians and as Israeli President Shimon Peres estimated the two sides are "within touching distance".

"The most important of Kerry's proposals is a renewal of talks without a halt or freeze in settlement," the official told AFP.

He said that Kerry's plan states that if settlement building continues during the talks, the Palestinians could renew their requests to join international bodies where they could seek legal action against Israel.

Previously the United States has consistently opposed such "unilateral" Palestinian action.

The official said that President Mahmoud Abbas was to convene members of his Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah to vote on Kerry's initiative.

After that, at about 3 p.m., he would ask leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization to decide on the proposals from Kerry, who met twice this week with Abbas in Jordan.

The Palestinians have until now said that they will not renew peace talks, which have been stalled for three years, until Israel agrees to accept as a baseline the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, when it occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

They have insisted that Israel freeze all settlement construction in the occupied lands, including in East Jerusalem, which it annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel rejects such "preconditions".

Peres made his comments in a statement in which he called on the European Union to delay adopting settlement funding curbs, saying this could jeopardize the diplomatic negotiations.

"From the latest information at my disposal, Secretary of State John Kerry has succeeded in advancing the chances of renewing peace talks. We are within touching distance," he said in a statement.

"The coming days are critical. Wait with your decision, give priority to peace," Peres said.

The European Union is to publish new guidelines for its 28 member states on Friday that will block all funding of, or dealings with, Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

A US State Department official said Kerry had decided to delay his return to the United States, which had been scheduled for Thursday.

"Secretary Kerry will remain in Amman on Thursday night to determine if there is additional work that requires his presence before he returns to the United States," the official said.

In a further sign of a possible breakthrough, Israeli army radio said Thursday the military is preparing to lift some restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank.

"It appears that in the next few days the future of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be determined," an army radio reporter said.

"In the light of security assessments, two roads in the territories are expected shortly to be opened to Palestinian traffic; one north of Ramallah and one close to Beit Haggai," he added, referring to a settlement near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Following his meetings with Abbas and after outlining his latest peace proposals to Arab League officials in Amman on Wednesday, Kerry reported a narrowing of the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Through hard and deliberate, patient work, and most importantly through quiet work, we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly," the top US diplomat told reporters.

"We continue to get closer and I continue to be hopeful that the two sides will come to sit at the same table," he added, standing alongside his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.

The US envoy, who has made the resumption of Middle East peace talks a priority since he took office on February 1, acknowledged that differences remained between the two sides, despite his dogged shuttle diplomacy which saw him hold hours of talks with both Abbas and Netanyahu on his visit last month.

"There are still some elements and some language that needs to be agreed upon and worked out. This is normal, and I'm not going to detail specifics," he said.

There are no immediate plans for Kerry to visit Israel and meet Netanyahu.
Most Read
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015