U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority talking again involves getting Israel to release hundreds of terrorist prisoners, a PA official said on Friday.
Ahmed Majdalani told the Associated Press that Kerry has assured PA leaders that Israel would gradually free some 350 terrorists in the coming months. The prisoners would include some 100 men that were arrested over terrorist attacks carried out before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Israel has refused to free these terrorists in the past because many of them carried out some of the deadliest attacks against Israelis.
According to Majdalani, Kerry would endorse the pre-1967 borders as the starting point of negotiations. The plan does not include a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, according to AP.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that Israel recognize the 1949 Armistice Line as a designated border for any future PA state before any talks begin, one of his many preconditions on talks. Israel refuses, as these borders are indefensible and withdrawing back to them would guarantee its destruction.
Kerry has proposed holding talks for six to nine months focusing on the key issues of borders and security arrangements, said Majdalani.
Kerry on Friday flew by helicopter from Jordan to Ramallah to meet Abbas as he battled to salvage his Middle East peace bid.
Kerry had spent four hours earlier on the phone talking to both sides before making the decision to dash to Ramallah to meet Abbas for the third time this week, reported AFP.
Kerry had earlier on Friday met twice with PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in his Amman hotel.
The whirlwind diplomacy came after the PA leadership rejected Kerry's proposals for a framework to guide the relaunch of peace talks with the Israelis stalled for nearly three years.
Erekat had planned to tell Kerry that a return to talks could not happen based on his plan, a PA official told AFP ahead of their meetings.
"Erekat will inform Kerry that without a clear basis on the 1967 borders, a settlement freeze and a clear position on the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, the Palestinian side thinks there will be no talks," he said.
Their first meeting lasted barely 45 minutes, but Kerry and Erekat then went back into talks which lasted more than an hour and half, State Department officials said.
Shortly after the second talks broke up, a PA official told AFP that Kerry had decided to travel to Ramallah.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume talks.
"The president encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue to work with Secretary Kerry to resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible," the White House said in a statement, after the two leaders spoke by telephone.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)