RAMALLAH, West Bank – For the first time since the start of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations three months ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly declared that the negotiations have not yet produced any results.
The announcement is bound to upset the United States, which had agreed with both parties not to make any public declarations regarding the talks.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA on Monday published the full text of the speech Abbas made the day before to his top Fatah party members, in which he declared that the negotiations with Israel had so far been fruitless.
"After all these rounds of negotiations, there is nothing on the ground," Abbas said. "The negotiations are still without results."
Secretary of State John F. Kerry is expected to meet this week with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an apparent bid to salvage the negotiations, which Kerry has brokered over several visits to the region.
Palestinian officials have complained that the United States is not putting enough effort into the peace process, leaving the parties to deal with the complex final-status issues on their own.
The Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday quoted a senior Israeli lawmaker as saying that the Obama administration was planning to submit its own peace plan in January. It said Kerry had already briefed Netanyahu on the plan during their recent seven-hour meeting in Rome.
But the paper also quoted Netanyahu as telling his Likud Party members that while his government will examine any peace proposal, he will not accept "any external dictates and no pressure will help."
Abbas said that a Palestinian state would be established in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip and that he would not agree to "give up one millimeter" of Jerusalem, which he has insisted will be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
He also said he would not agree to the presence of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley, which makes up 40% of the area of the West Bank.
Israel says East Jerusalem, which it annexed after its occupation in 1967, will remain part of Israel and its eternal capital. It also has said it will keep a military presence in the Jordan Valley in any future peace deal for security reasons.
To alleviate Israeli security concerns, Abbas proposed the presence of a third party, such as a NATO force, in the Jordan Valley, but said that "we will not accept one Israeli on our land after the final agreement."
He said "Israelis may come as guests and they will be welcome, but no Israeli will be allowed to remain as part of an occupying force."