There are no last-minute breakthroughs to report by either side in the Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations, and PA representatives report no progress while Israeli ministers are squabbling.
PA sources told reporters Sunday night, “The crisis continues. During the entire meeting the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found.”
But as the “framework agreement” talks continue to fall apart, Israel’s government coalition is now facing a crisis of its own.
In a Knesset plenum session on Monday, Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called on the Hatnua party led by chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and the Yesh Atid party headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid to leave the government. “The failure echoes in all areas,” Herzog charged. “This is a government of failure that does not provide peace, only depression.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beyteynu party, seems to be heaping his own fuel to the fire. Liberman opened the door to new elections yesterday (Sunday April 6) with incendiary comments at The Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference in New York, saying he would rather face new elections than extend the talks with the PA in another “grand deal.”
Liberman opposes the proposal advanced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that would have extended the current talks until the end of 2014. The proposal would have freed the last tranche of 30 terrorists – including 20 Israeli Arab citizens – as well as an additional 400 more PA prisoners chosen by Israel as well.
The proposal and the unilateral membership applications by the PA to 15 international United Nations agencies and organizations, have torn apart Netanyahu’s coalition.
Despite intense efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk, absolutely no progress has been made in months. Both men appear to realize that there is not much more to be done, and now appear to be backing away from the process at this point.