Palestinians issue list of demands for extension of peace talks

Keeping peace process alive would require settlement freeze, prisoner release, drawing of future border, senior Fatah official says

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, April 1, 2014. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, April 1, 2014. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

A senior Fatah official said Monday that the Palestinian leadership has put forward seven terms as its conditions for extending peace talks with Israel beyond their April 29 deadline.

Amin Maqboul, a member of the Fatah revolutionary council, told the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds that the Palestinian Authority would agree to an extension of negotiations if Israel agreed to: announce the basis on which future talks will be held; draw the outline of the borders of a Palestinian state within the next three months; halt settlement construction; withdraw Israeli troops from the West Bank’s Area C to the lines held before the Second Intifada; release the fourth wave of prisoners that it has until now refused to set free; end what he called “disruptions” in Jerusalem, and open Palestinian institutions in the city.

Until now Israel has refused to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank as part of the current peace process, and won’t release the final 26 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails because it objects to the freeing of 14 Israeli Arab terrorists included in that list.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli opposition MKs visiting him in the West Bank city of Ramallah last Wednesday that if talks were extended, he would want the first three months “devoted to a serious discussion of borders,” Haaretz reported.

Maqboul said that the Palestinian demands were given to American mediator Martin Indyk and Israel has yet to respond to them.

Prominent Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmad confirmed that the Palestinians have demanded that, should the negotiations be extended, the first three months be dedicated to drawing the borders of a future Palestinian state. He said that no agreement to extend peace talks has been reached, and that the latest rounds of meetings by negotiators Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni have yielded no progress.

A senior Palestinian official quoted by the Palestine News Network on Monday said that during Friday’s meeting Indyk presented no new proposals on how to salvage the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Officials in Jerusalem on Friday also said that no progress was made in emergency talks that took place between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators the night before, and that the two sides would meet again this week after the Passover holiday.

Maqboul’s list of demands were published a day after a report in the Israeli press said that Abbas had threatened to dissolve the PA and disband Palestinian security forces operating in the West Bank if peace negotiations with Israel fail, a move which would create huge security and diplomatic problems for Israel.

According to Palestinian sources cited by Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday, Abbas and top PA officials are considering the drastic move, which would involve canceling the 1993 Oslo Accords and announcing that the Palestinian Authority is a “government under occupation” without full sovereignty, which would technically move full responsibility for the Palestinians, in the West Bank at least, to Israel.

The threat, which has reportedly been passed on to Israel, would also disband and abolish PA security forces operating in the West Bank, theoretically opening the way for expanded Palestinian unrest against Israeli forces. The move could also prompt a surge in international legal and diplomatic action against Israel.

Yedioth said a vote on the move is scheduled for a PLO meeting on Saturday, three days before the peace talks are currently scheduled to end.

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