Most Palestinian factions oppose the resumption of negotiations with Israel under the conditions outlined by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Palestinian news sources reported Thursday evening.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas debriefed Palestinian factions belonging to the PLO in Ramallah, as well as Fatah’s Central Committee on the content of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman Wednesday.
While the faction leaders decided to form a committee tasked with drafting an official response to Kerry’s proposal Thursday night, independent parliament member Mustafa Barghouti told the website of Al-Quds daily that most participants rejected the notion of resuming negotiations with Israel under the parameters presented by Kerry.
“Kerry has not delivered assurances regarding a settlement freeze, nor did he offer clear terms of reference for negotiations based on the 1967 borders,” Barghouti explained.
Citing “knowledgeable sources,” Ma’an news agency described the Palestinian leadership meeting as “stormy” and “dominated by an atmosphere of distrust for the American administration and the Netanyahu government.”
According to Ma’an’s sources, Kerry is interested in multilateral Arab-Israeli talks to be held in Jordan, rather than bi-lateral talks involving the Israelis and Palestinians alone.
Obliging a central Palestinian demand, Netanyahu had expressed willingness to release pre-Oslo prisoners held in Israel, as well as 250 additional prisoners, Al-Jazeera reported. But the Israeli premier changed his mind following a European announcement that it intended to single out Israeli settlements in future agreements with the EU, the report said.
Thus far, Abbas has refused to negotiate unless Israel halts all construction in West Bank settlements, which it last did in 2009. Recently, Israel has rejected Palestinian demands for a blanket freeze, saying negotiations should resume without the imposition of Palestinian preconditions. Kerry has offered the Palestinians a package of economic incentives worth $4 billion to restart the talks.
Lazar Berman and AP contributed to this report