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Three “noes” from Abbas?

Mar 28, 2014

Three "noes" from Abbas?

Update from AIJAC

March 28, 2013
Number 03/14 #05

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met US President Obama last week. The meeting, which one Palestinian negotiator described as “difficult”,  received relatively low-key coverage at the time, but later Israeli coverage, based on US Administation sources, suggests that Abbas was particularly negative and rejected three key elements of the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s “framework agreement” for peace. Yesterday, Kerry met with Abbas in Amman to try to narrow the gaps, as the US scrambles to try to find a way to keep the talks alive after their scheduled end date in late April, with the PA placing new conditions on any such continuation. This Update looks at the state of play in the peace process in the wake of Abbas’ apparent “three noes” in Washington.

First up is a report from the Times of Israel, summarising Israeli media reports on what Abbas told Obama. Less surprisingly, Abbas renewed his refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish homeland and refusal to compromise on the claimed Palestinian right of return – but in what was apparently a new departure, he also reportedly refused to accept that a two-state peace deal would mean an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to further Palestinian claims against Israel. He then returned to Ramallah to declare before a public rally that he would never “capitulate” and added “be assured that we will be victorious. We will keep secure what you have entrusted us with.” For all the details, CLICK HERE. More analysis of the reported “three noes” comes from Jonathan Tobin of Commentary.

Next up, Palestinian Affairs reporter Khaled Abu Toameh discusses the hero’s welcome that Abbas orchestrated for himself on his return to Ramallah to thank him for defying Obama and Israeli demands. Abu Toameh reports that the rallies were actually orchestrated by the PA  using mostly government employees and school children, and were in part an effort to cope with increasing divisions within his own Fatah movement – with a bitter fight developing between Abbas and his partisans and those of former military commander Mohamed Dahlan. Abu Toameh argues that the divisions within Fatah, no less than the divisions between the Fatah-ruled West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza, make it impossible for Abbas to accept Kerry’s framework. For the rest of Abu Toameh’s always knowledgeable analysis of West Bank politics, CLICK HERE. More on what the meeting in Washington showed about the Palestinian divisions and their bottom line comes from Israeli columnist Dan Diker.

Finally, noted Palestinian politics expert and author Jonathan Schanzer, together with fellow scholar Grant Rumeley, explains in detail the Palestinian “plan B” if the current talks end or fall apart. As Palestinian leaders have repeatedly hinted, they see their next step as an all out effort to promote a plan called “Palestine 194” – seeking recognition of the existence of a Palestinian state in international bodies as a way to greatly increase international pressure on Israel. Schanzer and Rumley review the history of Palestinian efforts along this line over recent years, and note that this “diplomatic intifada” is likely to see the US caught in the crossfire, as it has been in the past, and that Washington will need to prepare policies to cope with this likelihood. For the rest of what they have to say, CLICK HERE.

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TV report: Abbas said ‘no’ to Obama on 3 core peace issues

 

Rejecting Kerry framework, Palestinian leader reportedly told US president he won’t recognize ‘Jewish Israel,’ abandon ‘right of return,’ or commit to ‘end of conflict’

March 22, 2014, 1:01 am

On his trip to Washington this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and issued “three no’s” on core issues, leaving the negotiations heading for an explosive collapse, an Israeli TV report said Friday.

Abbas “went to the White House and said ‘no’ to Obama,” Channel 2 news reported, quoting unnamed American and Israeli sources.

Specifically, the report said, Abbas rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians and their descendants — a demand that, if implemented, would drastically alter Israel’s demographic balance and which no conceivable Israeli government would accept. And finally, he refused to commit to an “end of conflict,” under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.

Israel has indicated that it may not release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners at the end of this month, as agreed to when the current talks began last July, if Abbas does not first agree to extend the talks beyond their scheduled cessation next month. Since Abbas rejected the Kerry framework for extending the talks, the TV report said, the negotiations were now heading for an “explosion.”

Abbas returned on Thursday from the US, having held talks with Obama on Monday, and was met at his Ramallah compound by hundreds of cheering supporters.

“We carried the deposit, and we are guarding the deposit,” Abbas told those supporters somewhat cryptically. “You know all the conditions and circumstances, and I say to you that capitulating is not a possibility.” Abbas did not specify what he meant by the “deposit.”

During Monday’s meeting in Washington, Obama told Abbas that he would have to make tough political decisions and take “risks” for peace, as would Netanyahu. Abbas, for his part, reiterated his rejection of Israel’s demand that its status as a Jewish state be enshrined in a future peace accord, asserting that previous Palestinian recognition of Israel was sufficient.

“Everyone understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like,” Obama said, describing an agreement that reflected the pre-1967 lines with agreed land swaps. 

Sitting next to the president, Abbas spoke through a translator, thanking Obama for the opportunity to come to the White House and for the “economic and political support the US is extending to the Palestinian state so it can stand on its own feet.”

He outlined the Palestinian positions for negotiations, including “working for a solution that is based on international legitimacy and also the borders — the 1967 borders — so that the Palestinians can have their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and so that we can find a fair and lasting solution to the refugee problem.”

On Thursday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry notified Abbas that it is prepared to apply for full membership in international institutions if Israel fails to complete the fourth and final release of Palestinian prisoners jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords, scheduled for March 29.

Israel agreed to release 104 such prisoners in four stages over the nine-month negotiating period, in return for a Palestinian commitment not to apply for membership in international bodies.

A number of Israeli cabinet members, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, have publicly opposed the final release, which the Palestinians want to include 14 Israeli citizens, something Israel has rejected.

Lazar Berman, Elhanan Miller, Rebecca Shimoni Stoil and AP contributed to this report.

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Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama

 

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Palestine’s Plan for when Peace Talks Fail

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