by Khaled Abu Toameh
US Secretary of State John Kerry and chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat
speaking to reporters in Ramallah, January 4, 2013.
Photo: REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah on Sunday called into question US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that progress has been achieved in the talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
“Kerry is revolving in a vicious cycle,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, member of the Fatah Central Committee. “If he continues to propose to the Palestinian side what he’s proposing, he won’t achieve anything.”
Al-Ahmed told the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad that he does not believe that Kerry made any progress during his last visit to the region.
Al-Ahmed revealed that Kerry proposed to the Palestinians the idea of a “greater Jerusalem” as a capital for two states.
According to the Fatah official, Kerry's proposal does not consider east Jerusalem as part of the "territories occupied in 1967."
Al-Ahmed said that this proposal would destroy the American efforts to achieve peace.
He said that the Palestinians rejected the idea because it was not clear whether Jerusalem’s borders would extend all the way to the Dead Sea or stop at Abu Dis (on the eastern outskirts of the city).
Al-Ahmed reiterated the PA’s opposition to any Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley or any other part of Palestinian territories.
However, he said that the Palestinians have no objections to the presence of an international force or a joint American-Jordanian force in the Jordan Valley.
“Kerry started talking about a framework agreement during his last three visits to the region,” al-Ahmed said. “He proposed a security plan which the Palestinian side considered a step back from previous agreements with the US and former prime minister Ehud Olmert.”
He claimed that the US “retraction” encourages Israel to ignore international legitimacy and previous understandings between Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Al-Ahmed also reiterated the PA’s opposition to extending the peace talks beyond the nine-month period set by Kerry and which expires in April 2014. He denied the existence of a secret channel for talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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