Kerry, Palestinian negotiator meet anew

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AMMAN: United States (US) Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday met with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat in a final push to get a peace bid back on track before heading home.

The meeting comes after the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah rejected Kerry’s proposals for a framework to guide the relaunch of peace talks stalled for nearly three years.

The two men met in Amman for talks, which lasted barely 45 minutes, after Kerry and his team spent a long night waiting to see what the Palestinians would do.

The setback for the US plan came from the governing Revolutionary Council of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s own Fatah movement, which demanded changes.

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The broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which also includes leftwing factions less sympathetic towards a compromise, said it was also drawing up a formal response to Kerry’s proposals.

Palestinian member of parliament Mustafa Barghuti said “most factions” within the PLO had rejected Kerry’s proposal.

“It is appropriate and encouraging that there is such a serious debate about these issues,” a senior State Department official had said in a statement in the early hours of Friday morning.

While Washington understood that “there are many strongly held views and appreciate efforts to find a basis to move forward,” the top US diplomat would go ahead with plans to leave on Friday, the official added.

“During the leadership meeting . . . most of the Palestinian factions . . . rejected restarting peace talks based on Kerry’s proposals,” Barghuti said.

PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said the Palestinian leadership had “decided to form a committee to respond to Kerry’s proposals.”

“Kerry did not present guarantees to stop settlement building, nor base [peace talks]on 1967 borders,” he said.

Kerry’s plan would have seen Israel, now ruled by a coalition that has tilted sharply to the right after elections early this year, make only a tacit commitment to slow settlement construction in the occupied territories, not the publicly announced freeze long demanded by Abbas.

AFP

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