US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet this week in Jordan with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to a Jordanian newspaper report cited by Israeli media on Sunday.
According to Jordanian government sources, Kerry is to arrive in Amman on Wednesday to meet with Abbas and Jordanian officials, Jordanian paper Al-Arab Al-Yawm reported. The discussions will reportedly center on the recently announced Palestinian unity government and the suspended peace talks with Israel.
It was not clear if Kerry would visit Israel during the visit, and the US State Department has not confirmed the trip.
Gaza-based terror group Hamas and the Western-backed PLO, which is dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement on April 23 to end years of bitter and sometime bloody rivalry. Under the terms of the deal, the two sides would work together to form an “independent government” of technocrats that would pave the way for long-delayed elections.
Abbas said Saturday that the new government would be officially announced Monday in a Ramallah ceremony.
Israel suspended peace talks with the Palestinians over the unity pact, saying it would not negotiate with a government supported by Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction. Israel has also reportedly said that it will suspend economic cooperation with the Palestinians over the pact, which could have grave financial ramifications for the PA.
Also Sunday, Israeli government sources denied reports that new Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was expected to travel to Washington for meetings with the Obama administration. According to the sources, Israel has been assured by Washington that no invitation has been extended to Hamdallah, contrary to Palestinian reports.
The United States has said a unity government that includes Hamas, officially defined as a terror organization by the US State Department, would not help advance peace. Washington is still forming its policy toward the new political alignment.
The recent failed round of Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations was heavily endorsed by Kerry, who made multiple visits to the region in an effort to bring the two sides to an agreement.
AFP contributed to this report.