RAMALLAH, West Bank -- A senior Palestinian Authority official said Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has slowed peace talks by emphasizing Israeli concerns and security issues in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank.
The United States and Israel seem determined to discuss Israel as a Jewish state and security arrangements before anything else, Nabil Shaath, a senior member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, told journalists at his Ramallah office.
Shaath, an aide to Abbas who is not a peace talks negotiator, said negotiations should deal with borders.
"When we agree on borders, we will discuss security arrangements on these borders,” he said, adding that Israel and the U.S. seem to have bought into an approach of "Let's discuss security arrangements first, then we will discuss borders."
Shaath said that if “the narrative” continued there was no chance for a peace agreement any time soon.
“No Palestinian leader in his right mind would accept any of this," he said.
Abbas, during a speech last week, said that Palestinians won’t drop demands for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. He also said he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Kerry, who has made many trips to the region in an effort to help seal an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, also was reportedly criticized this week by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who was quoted describing him as “inexplicably obsessive” and messianic. A statement issued by Yaalon late Tuesday said he did not mean to offend Kerry and that his efforts were appreciated.
Kerry has said some progress has been made creating a framework for peace but that more work was needed. He remains hopeful of sealing a peace deal this spring.
Many Palestinians strongly oppose a framework agreement, which they say would only prolong and legitimize the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah on Wednesday against a framework, which they fear would be detrimental to their struggle for independence and statehood.
Abukhater is a special correspondent.