Kerry Leaves Israel Without Meeting Abbas
US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel Tuesday morning without meeting personally with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, leaving analysts scrambling to figure out what it all means for the future of talks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has scrambled to save talks in the wake of Israel's standing firm to prevent more terrorists to be released, making last-minute meetings with both Abbas and Netanyahu Monday night.
But as AFP reported earlier Tuesday, Kerry's meetings with Abbas were cancelled Monday when a meeting with Netanyahu dragged on too late. He met instead with PA chief negotiator Saeb Erakat. He will be back, however, on Wednesday to complete the talks.
"Kerry will fly to Europe today for previous engagements and will come back to meet the president tomorrow at noon (0900 GMT)," a PA source
Ongoing controversy over the talks stems around the fourth batch of terrorist releases, as MKs point out that the previous releases have done nothing to further talks, and that several of the released terrorists have contributed to the increase in terror attacks over the past year.
Erekat himself stated last month that Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases, prompting Israeli officials to reconsider completing the deal - which has always been contingent on real progress in the talks.
In response, Israel told PA officials over the weekend that the deal was postponed, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the release would "topple the government" due to public and political backlash.
In the meantime, the White House also offered to release US captive Jonathan Pollard in exchange for releasing more terrorists, enacting a construction freeze, and keeping talks going, but there is no word yet on whether the proposal was accepted.
The PA has already formally refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state throughout talks, stating that "the Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state." In addition, the PA Chairman will reportedly only agree to extend talks if Israel allows a "right of return" for Palestinian Arabs, free terrorist leaders, and withdraw from Judea and Samaria.
Abbas has repeatedly said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.