Fayyad pulls out Israel meeting, reveals division
RAMALLAH / JERUSALEM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat during their meeting in Jerusalem on April 17. REUTERS photoA Palestinian delegation handed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a letter from President Mahmoud Abbas setting out their grievances on April 17, but their prime minister, Salam Fayyad, refused to join them, revealing divisions within the Palestinian political establishment.
Netanyahu, who took the letter from top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majed Faraj, promised a written reply in two weeks, Reuters reported. “Both sides hope the exchange of letters will help find a way to advance peace,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting in Jerusalem. The Palestinian letter, from Abbas, demanded a halt to Israeli settlement construction on West Bank land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and deplored Israel’s lack of commitment to the peace process, officials said.
The letter says Israel must accept its pre-1967 war boundaries as the basis for the borders of a future Palestine, with mutually agreed upon modifications, The Associated Press reported. “As a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority,” the letter writes.
In the letter, Abbas asks Israel to outline “as soon as possible” its positions on four key issues: the principle of a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, halting settlement activity, releasing all Palestinian prisoners, and revoking all decisions which undermine bilateral agreements since 2000. “We stand ready to immediately resume negotiations the minute we receive your positive response on these points,” he writes. Fayyad had been expected to lead the Palestinian team for what would have been the highest level meeting since formal peace talks between the two sides broke off in 2010.
Khader Adnan released
Fayyad told his colleagues that he was pulling out of the meeting because he had reservations about the letter’s contents and was worried about public opposition to the meeting, said an official who requested anonymity because the matter’s sensitivity.
His last-minute withdrawal may also cast new light on divisions within the Palestinian political establishment, which has yet to find a strategy likely to lead to Palestinian statehood. The meeting came as the Palestinians marked their annual day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Some 3,500 prisoners refused meals on “Prisoners’ Day,” and 1,200 of them said they would continue with an open-ended hunger strike, according to Israeli prison service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman.
The day’s activities coincided with the release of the longest hunger striker in Palestinian history. Khader Adnan, who did not eat
for 66 days, was freed late April 17 as part of a deal reached with Israel. Adnan, 33, is a member of Islamic Jihad, which has vowed to destroy Israel.