Abbas: No Framework Has Been Presented Yet
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the United States had yet to present a framework for a Middle East peace deal, AFP reported.
"Until now, we haven't received the framework agreement we were promised," Abbas said at news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Bethlehem.
"When the framework is presented to us, we'll give our opinion on it," he added.
"We have never discussed prolonging the negotiations at all, nor was it offered to us," said Abbas, referring to recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who admitted he would not be successful in securing a full peace deal by an April deadline and is hoping to use the framework to extend talks.
Cameron said there were "serious disagreements" and "mistrust" preventing a peace deal, echoing concerns voiced by Kerry on Wednesday.
"As for the question of mistrust between Palestinian leadership and Israeli leadership... what I've seen over the last few days is serious disagreements on vital issues that will have to be settled if there ever is to be... a peace deal," Cameron said, according to AFP.
"There's no outcome that's possible where every Israeli is satisfied, where every Palestinian is satisfied. There has to be compromise. And compromise is difficult -- compromise takes bravery," he added.
Cameron said Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he met the day before, would "have to take difficult, unpalatable and sometimes unpopular decisions... in order to achieve that peace."
Kerry acknowledged on Wednesday that the level of mistrust between Israel and the PA was the highest he had ever seen.
He said there were "gaps... some of them very significant", but stressed these should be seen within the context of the negotiations, saying, "I still believe it's possible, but difficult."
Cameron, who gave a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, expressed support for Israel but also condemned Israel's construction in Judea and Samaria. The "settlements," as well as the PA's ongoing incitement against Israel, are an obstacle for peace, according to Cameron.
Little has been made public about Kerry’s proposed framework, with the exception of a report by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.
According to Friedman, the plan will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.
The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory.
Kerry has remained optimistic about the talks throughout the process, stating in December that a deal was "close" despite ongoing complications and dispute over the terms from both the PA and Israel.
Meanwhile, a day before Kerry spoke about the “mistrust” between Israel and the PA, a poll showed that most Israelis do not trust Kerry and do not believe that he is taking Israel’s security into account.
The poll found that two-thirds of the Jewish public does not trust Kerry’s framework agreement to take account of Israel’s security as a crucial factor. Among Israeli Arabs, 53% said that Kerry is not putting Israel’s security interest first, with 32% believing the opposite.