US Secretary of State John Kerry has blocked a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, senior Palestinian and Israeli officials say.
During a meeting with four retired Israeli ambassadors in Paris last Monday, Haaretz reported, Abbas said that despite his willingness to meet with Netanyahu, "a third party who is not Israeli" had recently prevented the meeting.
Netanyahu has reportedly been sending Abbas messages for weeks about reviving the long-stalled peace process amid escalating Arab violence and Abbas' threat to suspend key clauses of the Oslo Accords during his visit to the United Nations in New York.
During communications between the two, Abbas relayed that he would be interesting in attending a meeting with Netanyahu, but first wanted to consult with Kerry on the subject.
Israeli and Palestinian officials claim that Kerry asked the PA chairman to push off a meeting with Netanyahu for a few weeks until after the two met at the UN General Assembly.
Palestinian sources say Kerry blocked the meeting because he did not want it to take place without American involvement and his own personal mediation.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, proposed Kerry was still preoccupied with passing the Iran nuclear deal in US Congress and could not presently devote his time and energy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US sources dismissed the claims against Kerry, instead accusing the Palestinians of trying to place responsibility on Washington for Abbas' ambivalence over meeting with Netanyahu.
“The secretary is interested in reengaging on the issue [of peace],” a senior US official asserted. “He is talking to a full range of experts and stakeholders to better understand the options as part of our ongoing policy review.”