Shin Bet head quoted saying Abbas uninterested in talks

Shin Bet head quoted saying Abbas uninterested in talks

Yoram Cohen's office rejects Maariv report that claims he told MKs the PA president doesn't want to negotiate out of fear of a raw deal

Former Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen. (Flash90)
Former Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen. (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas isn’t interested in signing a peace agreement with Israel, Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen testified in a Knesset committee hearing on Tuesday, according to the Maariv daily.

Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Cohen reportedly told MKs that Abbas is “not eager to resume negotiations,” because in Abbas’s view the starting point for new peace talks is “not even close” to promises he received from former prime minister Ehud Olmert, and therefore he can only be in a losing position.

According to an MK present at the meeting quoted in the report, Cohen said Abbas “carries with him the former promises,” which fail to meet present realities, so in essence there was “no one to talk to” among the Palestinian leadership.

The Shin Bet on Wednesday rejected the accuracy of the report and denied that Cohen made the statements about Abbas attributed to him in the paper.

The security chief’s comments came amid a concerted drive by US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table. The secretary of state is slated to return to the Middle East for the fifth time this year to hold meetings next week with as yet unnamed leaders on both sides.

Kerry, speaking to an American Jewish organization on Monday, said time was running out for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cohen was also quoted saying that Abbas’s rule was stable for the moment, but his leadership was vulnerable if there were to be new Palestinian elections or a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. He was also reported saying that across the Palestinian territories, there is a “continuous decline” in the belief that a Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will come to fruition, and that 2012 saw a “clear increase” in terrorist activity in the West Bank.

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