Photo Credit: Michal Fattal/ Flash 90
Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that he is pessimistic about prospects for peace based on current negotiations, following volatile meetings between Israeli and Palestinian Authority representatives in Amman, Jordan.

“As things stand now, according to what happened over the past few days – when the Palestinians refused even to discuss Israel’s security needs with us – the signs are not particularly good,” Netanyahu said during his weekly meeting in Jerusalem.

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In Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore on Saturday that “Israeli intransigence” was behind the talks’ failure, saying Israel did not present a “clear vision” of border and security issues.  He said the PA remains committed to “end[ing] the Israeli occupation” and establishing a Palestinian state which would contain lands currently inside the borders of post-Six Day War Israel, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.  PA officials criticized Israel’s plan for preserving a majority of Israeli communities in the historic Jewish regions of Judea and Samaria.

On Saturday, an acrimonious spat broke out between  Israeli and PA negotiators in Amman, which is said to have stunned the Jordanian hosts who had brokered the renewed talks.

Leader of the Israeli negotiating team Yitzhak Molcho and head PA negotiator Saeb Erekat exchanged verbal jabs after Erekat prevented a senior Israeli officer from elaborating on Israel’s position on security arrangements.

Molcho brought with him to the Saturday meeting the head of the IDF strategic planning division, Brigadier-General Assaf Orion, to present Israel’s detailed position on security.  Erekat refused to hear Orion, saying the Brigadier-General should present his statements to the PA delegation as a written document, telling the Israeli team that he did not “have the mandate” to negotiate security decisions without a detailed document from the Israeli delegation on the issues of borders and security.

To that, Molcho responded that if Erekat does not have a mandate to discuss those crucial issues, “maybe you should leave and bring someone in your place who does”.

Molcho also criticized the PA for allowing incitement against Israel in its press, and read a number of quotes from the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was broadcast at a Fatah conference on Palestinian television last week for calling for the murder of Jews.

The PA has already announced that the next meeting between Israel and the PA in Amman will be the last.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be arriving in Israel in the near future to press Israel on the issue of negotiations with the PA.  He will also meet with Israeli leaders on issues pertaining to an attack on Iran.

On Friday, the Obama administration urged Israelis and Palestinians to continue holding talks in Amman.

 

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