Israel last week rejected a US proposal for a regional summit with the Palestinian Authority focused on working toward a peace agreement between Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to a Wednesday report.
Three senior Israeli officials speaking on anonymity told the Walla news site that the offer was made during National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata’s visit to Washington last week.
Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman proposed a five-party summit, which would convene the foreign ministers of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, Egypt and Jordan in Washington or a regional venue, such as Egypt or Jordan.
In response, Hulata reportedly said that the current stance of the Israeli government would not be compatible with the demands of the other parties to bring about a diplomatic initiative and that Israel was uninterested in a summit that would just raise expectations.
“We don’t like this idea. Experience in the past proves that a crisis of expectations is likely to bring about an escalation of violence in the field,” a senior Israeli official told Walla.
The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed in 2014; a few months later, a major escalation of violence occurred.
Israel was forced to embark on a large-scale counterterrorism crackdown in the West Bank after three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered by terrorists on June 12, 2014, which was followed by Operation Protective Edge, a month-and-a-half-long clash between the IDF and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
The idea for the summit was originally presented to the Prime Minister’s Office in December according to the sources, but Hulata more clearly rejected it last week, the report said. A senior US official refused to comment to Walla on the matter.
The official said the government was confused as to why the Biden administration was pushing the idea, despite the low likelihood of success.
Israel’s current fragile coalition government, which comprises a diverse range of parties with differing views on the conflict, has committed to not approach the sensitive issue as a matter of self-preservation. The coalition has lurched from one crisis to another in recent months, and appears to be on its last legs.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf is set to arrive in Israel over the weekend for a visit to senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah and senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem.
The Biden administration is reportedly trying to boost ties with the PA and affirm its support for the two-state solution.
In a phone call earlier this week, President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his dissatisfaction with current US measures to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, slamming “American silence” and insisted that the current United States administration must “turn its talk into actions.”
The Palestinians are frustrated with the Biden administration, which is providing alternative options to their demand that the US reopen their consulate in Jerusalem, which served as a de facto mission to the Palestinians before it was shuttered by former US president Donald Trump in 2019.