Daily Israel Report

Kerry Announces Surprise Meeting with Abbas

U.S. Secretary of State to interrupt a visit to Italy to meet with PA Chairman in Amman, amid impasse in peace talks.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/26/2014, 2:12 AM

Kerry and Abbas (archive)
Kerry and Abbas (archive)
Reuters

The latest impasse in the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is enough to cause U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to interrupt a visit to Italy to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan.

Kerry's surprise trip to Amman, which will take place on Wednesday, aims "to continue to narrow the gaps between the parties", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday, according to AFP.

Kerry will also be in touch with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "over the phone or by video conference", Psaki added, in what is seen as an acknowledgement by the Americans that talks have hit a snag.

Kerry coaxed the two sides back to the negotiating table in July after a three-year hiatus, but the talks have stumbled as he has sought to hammer out an agreed framework to guide the next few months.

The new meeting with Abbas comes just over a week after the PA Chairman visited the White House to meet President Barack Obama for what were described as "difficult" talks.

Kerry's unexpected plans to leave the Italian capital only hours after arriving came as fresh tensions arose over the peace talks, which he is struggling to keep on track and hopefully extend beyond an April 29 deadline.

Arab leaders meeting Tuesday in Kuwait backed the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, an Israeli demand that threatens to derail the talks.

In a draft statement endorsed by foreign ministers, the summit stressed a "categorical rejection" of the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and rejected "all pressures exerted on the Palestinian leadership" to force it into agreeing.

Abbas, meanwhile, launched a tirade against Israel at the Arab League summit, accusing the Jewish state of being responsible for the peace talks not progressing.

“The Israeli government is trying to dodge an agreement it had with the U.S. administration to release pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners,” Abbas said.

“The Israeli government took every chance to foil the American efforts. This proves what we say about the lack of seriousness and preparedness of the Israeli government to withdraw and create peace,” he charged.

On Monday, a PA official stated that Abbas would agree to extend peace talks with Israel, but only if certain conditions are met.

These conditions, according to the official, are more terrorist releases and a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas has consistently said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.