Palestinians say Kerry close to restarting talks

Updated 05 July 2013
0

Palestinians say Kerry close to restarting talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank: US Secretary of State John Kerry is closing in on an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch peace talks for a period of six to nine months, Palestinian officials said yesterday.
While a deal is not yet in place, the Palestinians said their president, Mahmoud Abbas, is pleased with the progress and hopeful a formula can be reached to begin what would be the first substantive peace negotiations in nearly five years. Kerry announced this week that he had significantly narrowed the gaps between the sides and would soon return to the region to try to wrap up the deal.
Since taking office early this year, Kerry has been shuttling between the sides in search of a formula for resuming negotiations.
The Palestinians hope to establish an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The last round of talks broke down in late 2008.
The Palestinians have demanded that Israel stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem before negotiations begin. They see the continued construction of settlements, home to more than 500,000 Israelis, as a sign of bad faith that makes it increasingly impossible to partition the land. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
The Palestinians also want Israel to commit to base its final border with a future Palestinian on its 1967 frontiers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says negotiations should begin without any preconditions.
Two Palestinian officials familiar with the negotiations said that Kerry has floated a compromise in which Israel would freeze settlement construction outside of major “blocs” that Israel expects to keep. These blocs are mostly located along Israel’s pre-1967 border.
“Kerry is trying to pave the way for relaunching the peace process. He is serious and we encouraged him. He made progress and we hope he can conclude a deal in the coming week,” said one official.
While Israel would not explicitly commit to returning to its 1967 lines, negotiations would be based on a May 2011 policy speech by President Barack Obama.

 


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
0

Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.