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Posts tagged ‘President of the Palestinian National Authority’

Kerry Meets Israel’s Netanyahu Again to Push Peace Talks.

Image: Kerry Meets Israel's Netanyahu Again to Push Peace Talks

JERUSALEM — Secretary of State John Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in his latest push for an elusive Mideast peace deal.

On his ninth trip of the year to the region, Kerry continued his furious pace of shuttle diplomacy amid a rare snowstorm that blanketed Jerusalem.

“I have heard of making guests welcome and feeling at home. This is about as far as I’ve ever seen anything go . . . giving me a New England snowstorm,” said the former Massachusetts senator as he viewed a snow-covered Old City of Jerusalem with Netanyahu.

Kerry met Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and it took him more than two hours to get back to Jerusalem because of the wintry conditions, a trip that usually takes about 20 minutes. He departs later Friday for Vietnam.

Concerned that a final status agreement may not be possible by the May target date the two sides accepted when they resumed talks in August, U.S. officials say Kerry is hoping for a framework accord that would contain the principles of a comprehensive pact, but not specific details.

If an outline were achieved, the negotiations could be extended beyond the nine-month timeline originally set by Kerry.

The officials, who spoke to reporters aboard Kerry’s plane on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, stressed that an agreement on all issues — including security, borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees — by May remains the goal.

But, should that prove unworkable, they said a framework agreement would buy time for additional negotiations. Netanyahu and Abbas agreed after numerous rounds of meetings with Kerry to negotiate for a minimum of nine months.

A framework accord, the officials said, would be a “logical step” on the path to a final status agreement.

In Ramallah and Jerusalem, he will also follow up on elements of a West Bank security plan, ideas for which he unveiled on his most recent visit to the region just last week, and other points of potential progress.

But his latest visit comes amid Palestinian unhappiness with the security plan and few, if any, tangible signs of progress.

Kerry, along with special U.S. Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk, met separately and then together for about three hours Monday with chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, Psaki said.

Livni and Erekat were in Washington for a Mideast conference in which President Barack Obama, Netanyahu and Kerry participated. Kerry also spoke Wednesday by phone with Netanyahu.

On Monday, though, top Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said if Kerry finalized a framework accord, he would be breaking a promise to try to negotiate a final agreement in the current round of talks.

The Palestinians are concerned that a framework deal will accommodate very specific Israeli security demands while offering only vague promises to the Palestinians, Abed Rabbo said.

Security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestine would be central to such a framework. Kerry has argued that progress in negotiations is only possible if Israeli security concerns are addressed first.

The security proposals presented last week to Abbas and Netanyahu include arrangements for the border between Jordan and a state of Palestine.

U.S. officials have refused to discuss details, but Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details of the negotiations, say they would give Israel final say at that border for at least 10 years and would also have a military presence in the strip of land next to it, the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.

Israeli officials have said they fear militants and weapons could be smuggled into a future Palestine if Israel gives up control over the West Bank-Jordan border. Abbas has said he is willing to accept an international presence there, but not Israeli forces.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967, but are willing to accept minor land swaps in drawing the final border to accommodate some of the settlements Israel has built on war-won land.

Netanyahu has refused to commit to what the Palestinians and most of the international community considers a basic ground rule — that border negotiations use the 1967 lines as a starting point.

In all, Israel has agreed to release 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four stages during the current negotiations, which began in late July and are to conclude in April. Israel has so far released two groups of prisoners.

Kerry wants the last two releases to be combined and be carried out in late January, instead of being done in two installments, the Palestinian officials said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Palestine’s Abbas: Israel to Blame If Talks Collapse Over Borders.

Image: Palestine's Abbas: Israel to Blame If Talks Collapse Over Borders

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Tuesday Israel would be to blame if ongoing peace talks collapsed over its military control of a border with Jordan.

“We will not accept it, and if they [the talks] collapse, they [the Israelis] will be the reason for the collapse, not us,” Abbas told the Baltic News Service during a visit to Lithuania, current holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency.

Israeli daily Maariv reported last week that negotiations almost collapsed in September due to conflicting positions on future borders, particularly where the eastern West Bank adjoins Jordan.

Israel has long stated that it seeks to retain a long-term military presence along the Jordan Valley.

But Palestinians flatly object to any Israeli military on land that could become the eastern front of a future Palestinian state.

“They don’t have the right to stay in our territories after we signed a peace treaty,” Abbas said Tuesday, while stressing that he accepts a future demilitarized Palestinian state.

“We want, according to the Oslo Agreement, a strong police force. This is exactly what we want, how we understand, how they understand, how the Americans understand it,” the Palestinian leader said.

Abbas also hailed the European Union’s (EU’s)demand on Monday that Israel stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Construction starts in Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land rose by 70 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2013, anti-settlement group Peace Now said last week.

Speaking for the 28-member EU, Lithuania said Monday that settlements were impeding the peace process.

“They [EU countries] will implement their proposal [addressing the settlements] at the beginning of 2014, which is very, very important for the peace process,” Abbas added, terming this a “strong signal to Israel”.

Settlement building in the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War is considered illegal under international law, and the issue remains one of the most divisive in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks resumed in late July after a hiatus of nearly three years.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the talks, taking place under a US-imposed media blackout, have “intensified.”

© AFP 2013


Kerry: Israelis, Palestinians Aim for Final Deal With More US Input.

UNITED NATIONS — Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to intensify peace talks aimed at reaching a final agreement — not an interim accord — with greater U.S. participation, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

The two sides met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York at a conference of donors looking for ways to revive the fragile Palestinian economy.

Speaking before the closed-door meeting known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, Kerry said the goal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians is a “final status agreement,” not an interim one.

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“We have agreed now, in the last week, when I have met with both [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, we have agreed now to intensify these talks,” he said. “And we have agreed that the American participation should be increased somewhat in order to try to help facilitate.”

Kerry described two tracks to the talks: one among the negotiators — Israel’s Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho and the Palestinians Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh — and another among Abbas, Netanyahu, Kerry, and President Barack Obama.

Speaking of the second track, Kerry said: “As we think appropriate, as we need to move the process, we will be consulting among each other and working to move this process forward.”

A U.S. official played down the idea of Obama increasing his role for now, although Obama had described the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, along with trying to curb Iran’s nuclear program, as two top diplomatic priorities in his speech at U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the increase in U.S. engagement during the short term was likely to take the form of lower-level U.S. officials taking part in the Israeli-Palestinian meetings more frequently.

Kerry’s comments offered a rare glimpse at the talks, which the United States initiated but has tried to keep under wraps on the argument that public discussion makes it harder to reach an agreement to end the more than six-decade conflict.

Abbas told Obama in a meeting on Tuesday on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly that the Palestinians will exert every effort possible to try to ensure the peace talks are a success.

Obama, as well as Kerry, are due to meet Netanyahu next week in Washington as they try to keep up the momentum in the negotiations.

The key issues to be resolved include borders, the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Both sides expressed their commitment to the peace talks at the Ad Hoc meeting and noted the determination of the United States, and Kerry in particular, to move the process along.”This is a 50-year-old conflict, and it’s inevitable that we have to find closure to it,” Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said. “It’s impossible to continue as is.”

The new Palestinian finance minister called Wednesday’s economic talks “very, very successful.”

The donor meeting asked Israel to ease some of the restrictions that have hurt employment, trade and other crucial areas of the Palestinian economy.

An International Monetary Fund staff report on West Bank and Gaza economies released last week said extensive Israeli restrictions on movement and access should be eased and eventually removed.

The donors on Wednesday also asked the Palestinians to rein in expenditures and take steps to “develop a business-friendly environment.” They are facing a $350 million financing gap projected for this year.

The Palestinians depend heavily on aid from donors — about $1.3 billion this year, or the equivalent of nearly 12 percent of annual gross domestic product. But the aid has been falling in recent years, along with optimism over peace.

Both sides appeared unusually upbeat after Wednesday’s meeting, despite the challenges. And they acknowledged they have little time to be otherwise.

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“We are particularly conscious of the fact that we can’t build a state that almost totally depends on foreign grants,” Bishara told reporters after the meeting.

But he stressed: “We have to ensure that one state is close in its standard of living to the other state.” The income gap between Israel and the Palestinians remains vast.

Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz called the meeting “positive” and said a “strong, viable Palestinian economy” helps to create a better political climate — as long as Israeli security needs are not damaged.

Both sides have resumed dialogue between finance ministers, Steinitz said. Other moves include another 5,000 employment permits for Palestinians and allowing more water and construction and cellular equipment into the Gaza Strip.

© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

Israeli Official: Palestinian Authority ‘Gang-Raping’ the Israeli Government.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

The government’s plan to release 85 Palestinians imprisoned prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority ahead of renewed peace talks has met with harsh criticism by families of terror victims, who say the move will “add insult to injury.”

The 85 prisoners in question are all considered “heavyweight terrorists” directly involved in murderous terror attacks against Israelis.

“The possible release of these terrorists is a disgrace to the Israeli justice system,” says Ehud Bromberg, who lost his brother, Avraham, in a terror attack.

Sgt. Avraham Bromberg, 20, who served in the Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps, was on his way home from his Golan Heights base when he was attacked by a group of terrorists on Nov. 26, 1980. Bromberg fought his assailants but suffered a fatal head injury. He died at Rambam Hospital in Haifa four days after the attack.

Bromberg’s murderers, Karim Younis and his cousin Maher Younis, were sentence to life imprisonment, but their sentence was commuted by President Shimon Peres in August 2012, making them eligible for parole in 2023. The Palestinians demand that the two be included in the upcoming prisoners release.

Avraham’s son, Avi, who serves as spokesman of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, was livid Tuesday, when media reports confirmed that the cabinet will vote on the matter in the coming days.

He is demanding that the cabinet’s vote be postponed pending a meeting between the representatives of the bereaved families and the ministers.

“It is inconceivable that the state can ignore the bereaved families like this,” he said. “President Peres and the government are grateful to Abu-Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] for the difficult concessions he agreed to for the sake of the negotiations, and we will be left to pay the price. We didn’t even get a phone call. The government’s conduct is a disgrace.”

Almagor’s director, retired Lt. Col. Meir Indor, also leveled harsh criticism at the government over the decision.

“Israel is facing a slippery slope. The Palestinians are gang-raping the government and it just capitulates,” Indor said. “This happens every time in different ways. Every deal you make with the Palestinians, they violate.”

Indor bashed the justice system’s treatment of its heavyweight prisoners, saying it weakened efforts to bring terrorists to justice.

“The Israeli justice system is left empty of authority,” he said. “This time it’s Fatah terrorists. Last time it was Hamas terrorists. [The government] is asking us to accept the fact that the state of Israel is willing to let terrorists get away with killing Jews and that it no longer seeks to punish them with the full force of the law.”

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Death of Palestinian Prisoner Sparks Riots in Israeli Prisons.

A convicted Palestinian terrorist — suffering from terminal cancer and serving a life sentence — died in an Israeli hospital Tuesday, sparking widespread turmoil in several prisons throughout the country.
Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, was a member of Hamas from the West Bank who was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for attempted murder and other terror-related violations, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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After news of his death spread, prisoners across the country began protests, which included a riot in a Hebron-area facility, where inmates tossed Molotov cocktails at security forces, the Post said.
The head of an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners accused Israel of being responsible for Hamdiyeh’s death, because of the Jewish state’s “refusal to release him for treatment,” despite repeated requests, some of which came from abroad, AFP reported.
According to the AFP report, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tried to gain Hamdiyeh’s release as his health took a turn for the worse.


© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Hiram Reisner

Palestinian leader mistakes Morsi for Mubarak.


  • In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, laughs with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during a photo opportunity following Abbas' arrival in Cairo, Egypt, for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)View PhotoIn this photo released by the Egyptian …

CAIRO (AP) — Awkward.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mixed up the names ofEgypt’s democratically elected president and his ousted authoritarian predecessor when he tried to thank his hosts at an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday.

Abbas intended to thank Egypt for supporting the Palestinian cause. He began by saying “President Mohammed Hosni” then stopped short and corrected himself to say “Mohammed Morsi.” Morsi remained mostly stone faced during the gaffe except for a slight movement of the mouth that hinted at disapproval.

Morsi frequently mentions that he is Egypt’s first freely elected leader after the 2011 uprising that ended nearly three decades of Hosni Mubarak‘s authoritarian rule.


Associated Press

Israel arrests 20 Hamas members in West Bank.

RAMALLAHWest Bank (AP) — Israeli forces arrested 20 members of the Palestinian militant groupHamas, including three lawmakers, in a raid early Monday in the West Bank, Hamas officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed arrests were made but would not elaborate further.

According to several Hamas officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, the arrests took place in the early morning all across the territory. One of those arrested was in charge of reconciliation talks between Hamas and its rival, the secular Fatah, according to the Hamas officials.

Palestinians have been deeply divided since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, ousting forces from the Fatah party, led by the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in bloody street battles. Abbas has since ruled only in parts of the West Bank, and Hamas has held sway in Gaza.

Multiple attempts to reach a long-elusive reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian groups have not succeeded so far. And while efforts to end the split have failed, the two sides have tried to make a show of unity since Hamas’ fierce battle with Israel in November and Fatah’s subsequent recognition bid at the United Nations.

Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization because it has carried out scores of deadly attacks, including suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

Hamas lawmakers have been subject to arrests by Israel since the group defeated Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election.


By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH | Associated Press

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