A Palestinian Authority official has said that the body rejects 3 core issues in the framework proposal submitted by US Secretary of State John Kerry: recognition of Israel’s Jewish identity; the status of Jerusalem; and future security arrangements.
The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday that the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that progress in the American initiative is limited to two points. The first is that the secretary of state understands that his proposal should guarantee the establishment of a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with a land swap. The second is that the Palestinians have agreed to sign an interim agreement for a period that does not exceed one year.
According to the official, the US draft agreement includes a clause demanding that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should recognise Israel’s Jewish identity. Abbas is reported to have refused to accept such a condition, asking Kerry to submit the request to the United Nations and not to the Palestinians.
The PA would like Kerry’s proposal to recognise Palestinian aspirations to have East Jerusalem as their future capital and to recognise the Old City of Jerusalem as an international entity. Under that sort of framework, the Palestinian neighbourhoods of the city would be transferred to the future Palestinian State and Jewish neighbourhoods would belong to Israel.
Although the Kerry proposal envisages the Israeli army staying in the Jordan Valley for 5 years while Palestinian security forces are trained to perform its role, the PA leadership does not accept this. Kerry also suggests that the illegal Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley would stay during the same period leased out to Israel. This, too, is unacceptable to the Palestinians.
Kerry left the Middle East on Monday after four days of intensive talks. He was unable to persuade either side to accept his initiative. The secretary of state has been trying to obtain approval from the Arab follow-up committee on his proposal before returning to the region next week.