A Fatah official denied on Monday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the near future, noting that any meeting between the two leaders would be contingent upon progress in peace negotiations.
Speaking to the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mheissen said that Abbas was unlikely to meet Netanyahu given “Israel’s insistence on thwarting peace talks by expanding settlements and denying Palestinian rights to establish a state on land occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.”
Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen had reported on Sunday that Abbas agreed to meet Netanyahu during a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah last week. The American secretary of state proposed the move in a bid to break the deadlock in talks amid mounting frustration within the Palestinian negotiating team, a key member of which tendered his resignation to Abbas last month.
Palestinian sources told the paper that Abbas was uninterested in providing Netanyahu with a photo opportunity intended to “show Israel’s willingness to meet Palestinians on all levels to achieve peace, while thwarting it on the ground.”
“There will be no three-way summit under American auspices in the near future,” Mheissen said, adding that “any meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is tied to the advance in negotiations between the teams headed by Dr. Saeb Erekat from the Palestinian side and [Justice Minister] Tzipi Livni from the Israeli.”
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to engage in negotiations for a nine-month period, scheduled to end in May. Despite some indications of a possible extension of the timetable, Kerry said on Friday that a deal could still be reached by spring.
The most recent crisis between the negotiating sides revolved around an Israeli demand for a 10-year IDF presence in the Jordan Valley following an agreement, a demand reportedly endorsed by the Americans but adamantly rejected by the Palestinians.