Yossi Beilin
Yossi BeilinIsrael news photo: Flash 90

One of the main questions surrounding United States President Barack Obama’s impending visit to Israel is the issue of whether Obama will use his visit to renew political pressure on Israel over talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Now a left-wing activist and former minister, who bears major responsibility for the failed Oslo Accords that caused the deaths of over a thousand Israelis but did not bring peace, has cited top American officials in saying that Obama does indeed have a new plan for Israel-PA talks.

Speaking at a Geneva Initiative event, former minister Yossi Beilin said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently asked European leaders not to publish a peace plan for Israel and the PA at the present time, because America is planning to lead with its own plan.

There have been conflicting reports over Obama’s diplomatic plans since the U.S. president announced his visit. Initial reports said Obama was planning to hear from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu regarding Israel’s diplomatic plans.

Later reports said that Obama did not plan to pressure either side, but would create an initiative to renew diplomatic talks. The PA stopped short-lived talks in 2010 and has demanded a complete construction freeze for Israelis living east of the 1949 armistice line, among other things, as a precondition for future talks. Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations to recognize the PA as a state, contrary to the Oslo Accord ban on unilateral moves, but refused to negotiate with Israel..

However, there have also been reports in American media that Obama plans to demand a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria (Shomron) with the goal of creating a new Arab state in the area by 2014.

Another speaker at the event, former government negotiator Udi Dekel, argued that time is not on Netanyahu’s side, and said it would be best for Israel to immediately begin new diplomatic efforts, even small ones. A series of small successes would be better than one large failure, he said.

Former Labor party MK Colette Avital spoke as well. Avital had advice for new Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who joined the government with her small new party, Hatnua, after spending most of the last four years in the opposition as the head of  the now almost defunct Kadima. She encouraged Livni to create a deadline beyond which she would leave the government if Israel has made no breakthrough in diplomacy with the PA.

Netanyahu has repeatedly offered to begin Israel-PA talks with no preconditions, but has been snubbed by PA leaders.