Abbas huddles with John Kerry, calls ‘urgent’ meeting on peace talks
JERUSALEM -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an “urgent” meeting Thursday of his senior advisors, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and other factions to consider the latest proposal by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry to restart peace talks with Israel, his office said Wednesday.
Though there were some signs that Kerry’s effort is making headway, officials on all sides said it remained unclear whether a breakthrough was imminent.
Kerry, whose trip to the region began Monday, already has met twice with Abbas, including a five-hour discussion in Amman, Jordan, late Tuesday, according to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki.
The secretary of State talked Wednesday with Arab League officials, who afterward expressed support for his initiative, calling it “a good ground and suitable environment for restarting the negotiations, especially the new and important political, economic and security elements.”
Details of Kerry’s plan were not released, but Palestinian officials said it included economic assistance for Palestinians and security assurances for Israel.
Abbas has refused to resume negotiations with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until Israel halts building Jewish settlements in the West Bank and land around Jerusalem that it seized in 1967. Most of the international community views Israel’s settlement construction as illegal, but Netanyahu has vowed to increase the building.
On Wednesday, an Israeli military committee moved ahead with plans for 732 units in the settlement of Modiin Ilit, according to Israeli media.
Though U.S. officials have insisted in recent weeks that they are making progress in restarting Israeli-Palestinian talks, many suspect that Kerry’s diplomatic effort might be nearing a close, and predict that if he fails to persuade both sides to make concessions following this trip, his sixth to the region, he may scale back his effort.
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