Jerusalem won’t hand Kerry list of concessions

Gaps with the Palestinians are too large and such a move would only harm Israel, officials say

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu meeting in Jerusalem in March. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu meeting in Jerusalem in March. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Any gestures made by Israel before returning to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority would weaken its position, government officials said over the weekend, adding that Israel would not deliver to US Secretary of State John Kerry a list of concessions, as requested by the PA, before talks resumed.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded Jerusalem hand Washington a map showing the territorial concessions Israel is prepared to offer as part of a comprehensive peace deal, and threatened he would not return to the negotiation table before this was done.

Political adviser Nimr Hammad told AFP that the Palestinian leader “wants to know, through a map to be presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kerry, what the prime minister’s view of a two-state solution would be, especially the borders.”

“Any return to negotiations requires Netanyahu to agree on 1967 borders,” Hammad told the news agency.

Unnamed Israeli officials told the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the PA would simply use such a map as a new starting point for negotiations, having scored a victory without having to make a move.

During US President Barack Obama’s recent trip to the region he called on the Palestinians to resume talks with Israel with no preconditions, but so far Abbas hasn’t backed down from his demand that Israel release prisoners, freeze settlement construction and agree to a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders — before starting direct negotiations.

The gaps between the sides are too big, sources close to Netanyahu were quoted as saying by the Hebrew daily. Any concession Israel makes now would only harm it in the future.

Kerry is in the region this weekend for another round of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in an effort to restart talks between the sides. He met with Abbas in Jordan on Saturday and was scheduled to hold talks with Netanyahu Sunday, following a brief visit to Ankara.

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