Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will reportedly meet with the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah next week, in the first meeting between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials since the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to a Hadashot TV news report Monday, the meeting set for next Sunday at Kahlon’s Jerusalem office will focus on joint economic initiatives that were put on ice after US President Donald Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem last month.
Trump’s pronouncement caused outrage among the Palestinians, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to engage in American-led peace talks, saying the US is not an honest broker.
He has also refused to meet with senior White House officials, including US Vice President Mike Pence, and he cursed Trump in a speech earlier this month, in which he called a peace plan being formulated by the US, the “slap of the century.”
Ahead of his sit-down with Hamdallah, Kahlon met with US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who implored him to stress to the Palestinians that there is no alternative to US-brokered peace talks, the report said.
That meeting also included Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli military’s liaison to the Palestinians.
The report said the Palestinians had initiated the meeting, and noted the good relationship between Kahlon and Hamdallah. The two last met in Ramallah in October.
פגישת עבודה נוספת עם שליחו של הנשיא טראמפ למזרח התיכון @jdgreenblatt45 ומתאם פעולות הממשלה בשטחים. דיון מעמיק בנושאי אסרטרטגיה, ביטחון וכלכלה.
ארצות הברית היא המתווכת ההוגנת והיחידה לכל הסדר עתידי באיזור ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/azBMNtD6pV
— משה כחלון (@KahlonMoshe) January 28, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that there is no alternative to US-led negotiations and said Trump’s announcement will help advance peace.
In response to the PA’s refusal to engage in American-backed peace talks, the US has frozen over $100 million in aid to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Meeting with Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Trump said the US would end financial support for the PA, unless it returns to negotiations.
Trump also said his recognition of Jerusalem had taken the city “off the table,” leading the Palestinians to say peace was “off the table,” if the decision wasn’t reversed.
Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not meant to determine the city’s final borders, which they said should be agreed upon between the sides.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of their future state. Israel on the other hand claims the entirety of the city as its united capital.