Palestinians undecided on Kerry peace talks plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 18 July 2013 Mahmoud Abbas has met John Kerry twice this week to discuss the US plan

Palestinian leaders have ended a meeting to discuss a possible revival in peace talks with Israel without reaching a decision.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had briefed them on the latest US proposal to restart talks.

Reports suggest many present felt the plan did not do enough to ensure talks about borders would be based on pre-1967 ceasefire lines.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been in the region to discuss the plan.

Having extended his visit to the region by a night amid signs of progress, Mr Kerry will return to the US on Friday.

A State Department official said Mr Kerry would consult Israeli and Palestinian leaders before leaving, adding that the debate over reviving peace talks was "appropriate and encouraging".

The BBC's Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the outcome will be disappointing for Mr Kerry after another week of intense shuttle diplomacy in which he won support from the Arab League for his peace plans.

The White House said President Barack Obama had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone, urging him to resume negotiations with the Palestinians "as soon as possible".

The State Department has acknowledged that Mr Kerry is unlikely to be able to announce a breakthrough on his latest visit.

"There are currently no plans for an announcement on the resumption of negotiations," said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

There is a growing flurry of predictions that US Secretary of State John Kerry may get Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table.

However settlements are still a major stumbling block. As Mr Kerry shuttles, Israel keeps announcing plans and permits for new homes.

Through endless hours of face-to-face talks and telephone conversations, aides from all sides are trying to put together a detailed plan of incentives and commitments.

But it still comes down to the political will of Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Even if they do sit down around a table again, there is the bigger question of whether they will ultimately succeed in closing a deal, at last. On that, all bets are off the table for now.

The priority now is just getting to the table.

Mr Kerry has not given details of his plan to revive direct peace talks, which stalled nearly three years ago. However, he has met Mr Abbas in Jordan twice in the past two days.

After a meeting in Amman, the Arab League supported the latest US proposals saying they "provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations".

This raised speculation that President Abbas's Fatah faction and senior members of the broader Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) would concur at meetings in Ramallah.

However, several members of the Fatah central committee have already asked for changes to the US plan.

And most officials who attended the meeting with PLO leaders "described Kerry's offer as not sufficient for resuming negotiations with Israel," PLO official Qais Abdel-Karim told Reuters.

Previously the Palestinians have demanded a freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem before a return to peace talks. They have also asked for negotiations about borders to be based on pre-1967 ceasefire lines.

Israel's coalition government, which includes pro-settler parties, has said there should be no preconditions.

It is widely reported in the Israeli media that Mr Kerry has presented a plan that includes the resumption of talks on pre-1967 lines with land swaps that take into account the major settlement blocs in the West Bank.

The reports suggest that, in return, Palestinians would recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli prime minister's office has declined to comment.

On his Facebook page, Naftali Bennett, who leads the third biggest party in the Israeli governing coalition, rejected any such terms.

"The Jewish Home party under my leadership will not be a partner, not even for one second, in a government that agrees to negotiation based on 1967 lines," he said.

"Jerusalem, our capital, is not and will never be subject to negotiations."

Such a deal would also be extremely difficult for Palestinians to accept as it has serious implications for Palestinian refugees and the Israeli-Arab population.

The rights of Palestinian refugees, borders, settlements and the status of Jerusalem are all core issues in any final status peace agreement.

In recent months, John Kerry has paid six visits to the Middle East in an effort to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

He has said that time is running out for a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict.

More on This Story

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Man holding lipWitch hunt

    The country where a writer accused of blasphemy must run


  • Espresso cupNews quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Malaysian plane wreckage in UkraineFlight risk

    How odd is it to have three plane crashes in eight days?


  • Irvine WelshDeaf ears

    Five famous Scots who can't vote in the Scottish referendum


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Canada.Hidden rail trip

    Canada's tiny, two-car shuttle is a train lover's dream with scenic views

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.