A high-level delegation from the Palestinian Authority will visit the United States this week for a series of meetings expected to focus on the long-stalled peace process with Israel.
The delegation will be led by top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and include Majed Faraj, director of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, the Ynet news website reported Saturday.
The Palestinians will meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. They are also expected to hold talks with officials close to President-elect Donald Trump, the report said.
Quoting senior Palestinian officials and Western diplomats, Haaretz newspaper reported Saturday that the delegation aims to reach an understanding with the outgoing administration of Barack Obama that would prevent a US veto on a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements, which the PA hopes will be voted on by the UN Security Council at the start of January.
According to Haaretz, the UN resolution is set to be the central issue in the delegation’s meeting with Kerry.
The Palestinians intend to push for the resolution to go to a vote before Trump is sworn in on January 20, while Sweden — which already recognizes a Palestinian state — holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council. Stockholm is in favor of passing the resolution on the settlements, Haaretz said. The last time the Security Council backed an anti-settlement resolution was in 1980, during the presidency of Democrat Jimmy Carter, who recently called on Obama to recognize the state of Palestine before leaving office.
The Palestinians’ visit comes days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation by French President Francois Hollande to take part in a summit with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on the sidelines of a conference on the peace process.
Abbas and foreign ministers from nearly two dozen countries are expected to meet in Paris on December 21 to try to jump-start peace efforts.
Netanyahu said he would be willing to meet with Abbas under other circumstances. Israel has rejected the conference, saying that it does not believe an international gathering is the way to achieve peace, rather direct negotiations with the Palestinians was the only way forward.
The French have been pushing an initiative aimed at revitalizing the moribund peace process between Palestinian and Israelis. While the Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, Israel has remained critical.
The Palestinians will also be keen to asses the intentions of the incoming Trump administration, widely expected to be more pro-Israel.
Netanyahu told CBS’s 60 Minutes, in an interview set to be broadcast Sunday, that Trump feels “very warmly” about Israel and the Jewish people.
In an excerpt from the interview released early, the Israeli leader said: “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well…his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.”