Obama to Restart Peace Talks After Elections

Senior White House source says Obama administration worried about PA collapse, thinking to push plans in UN and int'l community.

Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar,

Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas
Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas
Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

US President Barack Obama wants to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) according to reports Friday, after the last talks pushed by US Secretary of State John Kerry were torpedoed by the PA last April when it signed a unity deal with Hamas.

A senior White House clerk was cited in the Haaretz report saying that the final decision regarding how to advance peace talks will be taken after Knesset elections, which are to be held March 17.

"We'll want to see the make-up of the new government in Israel and its approach to the topic," the senior source was quoted saying. "But in the year-and-a-half to two years remaining for Obama in the White House we will need to deal with this topic because time is working against us."

The official's comments come on the background of the PA's decision Thursday to end security cooperation with Israel, and moves to sue Israel for "war crimes" at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking in this context, the source said that the Obama administration fears a financial collapse of the PA within months, as Israel has suspended the transfer of taxes gathered for the PA for several months as a response to the PA's ICC move, which is a unilateral step breaching the 1993 Oslo Accords that formed the PA.

He added that the Obama administration is concerned such a collapse could lead to a breakdown of the status quo and cause security chaos.

"We want to find the right moment for another attempt to advance something on the Israeli-Palestinian issue," the senior source said. "I don't believe that we won't try to do that before the end of 2016" when Obama's term will end.

Ideas being knocked around the White House according to the source include presenting an updated vision of a peace agreement to the international community, or advancing a resolution on the issue at the UN Security Council.

Both steps would involve going to outside sources and avoiding direct negotiation over the claims of each side.

They echo recent unilateral steps by the PA to turn to states ranging from Sweden to the UK and beyond for recognition as a "state" without engaging Israel in talks, and another move turning to the UN Security Council for recognition which was shot down in a vote.




top