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US Secretary of State in marathon effort to achieve progress on peace process

In a desperate effort to push forward the peace process, on Friday evening US Secretary of State John Kerry met the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.


Hamas said, “through its efforts the US want to create Oslo 2.”

Earlier on the same day Kerry met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Kerry did not give any information about the outcome of his meeting with either Netanyahu or Abbas. However, before his meeting with Abbas he said: “Every day we achieve a development.”

Kerry is expected to hold more meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas later on Saturday. But the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dostour reported in the morning that Kerry is to meet a large number of officials in Amman today.

The ongoing US marathon efforts are concentrating on reaching a framework agreement between the Israeli occupation and the PA on the main issues, such as borders, security, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

Spokeswoman of the US State Department Marie Harf said: “We are concentrating on discussing a framework and a vision, and we are working on achieving any progress that lessens the gap between both sides.” Harf refused to say whether Kerry had achieved any progress yet.

Other American diplomats ruled out that the PA and the Israeli occupation might reach an agreement based on the US proposal. They said that such an agreement needed more time.

Republican Senator John McCain, who is visiting Israel at the moment, said that Netanyahu has “serious reservations about the framework agreement,” concerning the issues of borders and the future of the Palestinian state.

Regarding leaks about the possibility of extending the negotiation period, which ends in April 29, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the PA would not accept even a “one-minute” extension.

Meanwhile, there was Palestinian anger over US bias towards the Israeli occupation. Large numbers of Palestinians took to the streets in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

PA security forces blocked a demonstration organised by the Palestinian Popular Front that was heading towards Abbas’ headquarters during his meeting with Kerry.

Demonstrators said that they do not need any framework agreement; its sole aim is to extend the negotiations period.

A senior Hamas official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told MEMO on Saturday that the US sought framework agreement is similar to Oslo.

“There will be an agreement to continue negotiations,” he said. “In Oslo, the PA was pressed to concede 80 per cent of Palestine, and now it is negotiating on the remaining 20 per cent.”

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