Kerry asks Abbas to bar anti-Israel measures in Fatah conference

US secretary of state reportedly requests moratorium on diplomatic measures against Israel until after elections

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on November 13, 2014. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm/Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on November 13, 2014. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm/Pool)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to block the adoption of anti-Israeli decisions in a national conference of his Fatah party scheduled later this week, an Arab daily reported on Sunday.

According to London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, Fatah’s Central Committee may vote on amending Palestinian relations with Israel in its 27th conference Wednesday, responding to an Israeli decision to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues.

Knowledgeable Palestinian sources told the daily that Kerry implored Abbas in a phone conversation to refrain from annulling previously signed political and economic agreements with Israel ahead of its national elections on March 17, in order to allow for the subsequent resumption of peace talks.

Kerry is set to travel to Switzerland on Monday to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as part of the Obama administration’s effort to cut a deal with Iran on its nuclear program ahead of a June deadline. The Palestinian issue has taken the backseat for the administration since talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed last April.

Fatah official Salim Za’anoun, head of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, told Palestinian news website Al-Watan Voice last week that the upcoming Fatah conference will “define the nature of relations with Israel given the recent political, security and economic developments.”

It will also discuss preparations for national Palestinian elections, reconciliation with Hamas, and reactivation of “popular resistance” to Israel, Za’anoun said.

Speaking to Palestinian TV last week, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muheissen called on Hamas to join Fatah in formulating a national strategy to confront Israel.

“The United States is completely biased toward Israel,” he said. “Netanyahu is heading to the United States Congress despite the position of the American administration. This shows us that the Palestinian people are not alone under occupation; the Americans are also being occupied by the same occupying forces.”

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