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Israeli, PA Negotiators to Meet

Two months after a series of failed exploratory meetings Israeli and PA negotiators will meet ot discuss an accusatory letter from Abbas.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/3/2012, 8:25 PM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators will reportedly meet for the first time since talks held in Jordan two months ago ended in failure.

"There are preparations with the Israeli side to have a meeting between Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molcho in the next few hours or days," a senior PA official told AFP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The last public meeting between Erekat and Molcho was on January 25 in Amman. The two had held a series of five exploratory meetings billed as laying the groundwork for formal talks.

Erekat and Molcho will reportedly discuss a letter PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to send to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The official's remarks came after reports in Israel's Hebrew-language press last week that Erakat and Molho had held a secret face-to-face meeting in Jerusalem, during which the former "relayed the content of the letter ... which at first included ultimatums as well as threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority."

It was previously reported that US President Barack Obama had personally advised Abbas not to include such ultimatums in the letter.

Nonetheless, according to a recent speech by Abbas, the letter will read “Because of you, the Palestinian Authority is no longer an authority. You took all its powers and liabilities. We have nothing left, is that acceptable to you or not?”

He also indicated that he intended to continue on his unilateral rather than bilateral track at the United Nations. “That is our right and we will turn to the UN again."

Israeli officials refused to comment on reports of an imminent public meeting.

PA officials accuse Israel of failing to present proposals on borders and security called for by the Quartet, which groups the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

However, Israeli officials note they presented their proposals to officials in Ramallah who dismissed them out of hand as "not serious" and now pretend not to have received them.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has gone on record saying Israel is prepared to resume negotiations immediately without preconditions from either side.

However, PA officials demand Israel agree to the indefensible pre-1967 lines, release all Arab terrorists from its prisons, and halt construction in the 'disputed territories' before talks can resume.

Israeli officials note a previous 10-month building freeze aimed at meeting PA demands was answered with more preconditions and a unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations.

They say PA officials are intended as a fait accompli to forestall talks that would require making hard comrpomises they have not prepared their people for.

However, critics say Israeli officials have failed to adapt to a new reality defined by strident unilateralism in Ramallah that precludes any chance of a bilateral agreement.

In December 2012, PLO officials indicated they were no longer interested in a bilateral track and had adopted "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."