The Palestinian Authority is fuming at US Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing him of trying to undermine the Egyptian ceasefire initiative endorsed by Israel and the PA last week and rejected by Hamas, an Arab daily reported on Sunday.
Palestinian sources told the London-based A-Sharq Al-Awsat that Kerry had initially agreed to an Egyptian proposal for an immediate ceasefire followed by five days of negotiations between Israel and the PA, with American assurances to address some of Hamas’s demands. But on Friday evening Kerry produced a new plan based on consultations with Qatar and Turkey and conducted between “the State of Israel” and “the Palestinian factions,” excluding the PA. The Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected Kerry’s plan.
“Kerry tried, through his latest plan, to destroy the Egyptian bid and the Palestinian remarks on it (the Abbas plan). His initiative is an alternative to ours,” an unnamed Palestinian official told A-Sharq Al-Awsat. “Kerry was in fact trying to create an alternative framework to the Egyptian initiative and our understanding of it, in a way that placates the Qataris and the Turks.”
The Palestinian source said that PA negotiators were “very close” to finalizing a ceasefire deal that would insure the lifting of the blockade over Gaza and “realize all Palestinian demands.”
The Kerry document would see Israelis and members of the Palestinian factions convene in Cairo on Sunday following a 48-hour humanitarian ceasefire to discuss the opening of border crossings to Gaza, the entry of goods and people, the transfer of funds for salaries of Hamas civil servants and “all security issues.”
But the Palestinian source speaking to A-Sharq Al-Awsat said that agreement on most of those issues had already been reached as early as Wednesday in discussions with Egypt and the PA.
“If the issue were removing the blockade, canceling buffer zones [on the Israeli frontier] and opening crossings and fishing areas, we have achieved all that since Wednesday. This should have been declared, but instead [Hamas’s political bureau chief Khaled] Mashaal came out in a press conference and destroyed the initiative. Then Kerry emerged with a new initiative.”
Fatah, Abbas’s political party, has also lambasted Kerry’s apparent move to exclude it from the ceasefire negotiations.
“No one represents the Palestinian people in any international venue but the pain and blood of the Palestinians,” read a message posted on the movement’s official Facebook page, referring to Kerry’s meeting Saturday in Paris with representatives of Qatar and Turkey, but of neither Egypt nor the PA.
‘Whoever wants Qatar and Turkey to represent them can emigrate and go live there. Our only legitimate representative is the PLO,’ read a message posted by Fatah
“Whoever wants Qatar and Turkey to represent them can emigrate and go live there. Our only legitimate representative is the PLO.”
An aide to Abbas related to A-Sharq Al-Awsat the contents of a phone conversation between French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Abbas following the Paris meeting.
“Abu-Mazen [Abbas] asked Fabius: ‘Did Israel agree to the ceasefire?’ He said: ‘No.’ ‘Did Hamas agree?’ He said: ‘No.’ So he embarrassed him with the question: So what is requested from me now?’
“Abbas’s conversation with Fabius demonstrates his level of anger and displeasure with Kerry and France’s role,” the article concluded, before quoting the Palestinian official: “Abbas considers the Kerry initiative as good as dead after being rejected by Israel. He is very angry that Palestinian blood has been manipulated and subjected to regional power struggles.”