Kerry to speak with Netanyahu, meet Erekat

Secretary of state will discuss truce, Abbas peace plan with Palestinian team in first face-to-face talks since July

US Secretary of State John Kerry steps out from his plane at Ben Gurion airport as he arrives in Israel on July 23, 2014. (file photo credit: AFP/STR)
US Secretary of State John Kerry steps out from his plane at Ben Gurion airport as he arrives in Israel on July 23, 2014. (file photo credit: AFP/STR)

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Palestinian negotiators on Wednesday in Washington to discuss the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and other issues, the State Department said.

Kerry was also expected to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Tuesday before meeting Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

The fresh talks — Kerry’s first face-to-face meeting with the Palestinians since late July — comes as the Palestinians say they will put forward a resolution later this month to the United Nations to set a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation of territories they claim are rightfully theirs.

“I think they’ll talk about a range of issues. There’s obviously an ongoing ceasefire discussion and upcoming negotiations that will take place. There’s a range of longer-term issues,” Psaki said Tuesday, without going into detail.

Last week, 50 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas ended with an open-ended ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups, brokered by Egypt. The two sides are supposed to meet soon for negotiations on a long-term truce, but no date has been announced yet for the start of the talks.

Kerry last met Palestinian leaders in late July, less then a month into the conflict, when he sought in vain to mediate a truce.

His bid to reach a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April amid bitter recriminations among both sides.

On Sunday, Abbas gathered his advisers at his Muqata’a headquarters in Ramallah ahead of a planned visit by Erekat, his chief negotiator, and intelligence chief Majed Faraj to the US. Both negotiators are set to meet next week with Kerry and present him with Abbas’s new diplomatic proposal.

The plan, which Abbas is set to submit for Arab League approval by the end of this week, envisions filing a request with the Americans in the coming days to pressure Israel to present a map of a future Palestinian state as the basis for substantive negotiations.

After Israel presents the map, Abbas’s plan calls for a firm timetable to be laid down for a gradual Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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