Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told Secretary of State John Kerry taht the Palestinians are manufacturing “artificial crises.” The secretary is attempting to rescue the brittle “peace process.”
Kerry’s arrival in the area late Tuesday night, to meet with both sides amid growing indications that the U.S.-sponsored talks are collapsing.
The Tuesday talks in Jerusalem between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators exploded over settlement construction, with PLO negotiators saying the Israelis are trying to discredit them by linking in quid pro quo fashion the construction plans with the release of 104 prisoners.
“There was an explosion in the meeting,” one Palestinian official close to the talks told Ma’an.
Netanyahu was not impressed by these Palestinian accusations, telling the visiting Kerry that they are avoiding the tough decisions.
“I am concerned about progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitements, to create artificial crises … and run away from historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace,” Netanyahu told Kerry, according to a statement from the PM’s office.
Kerry, for his part, expressed confidence that the two sides could reach a peace deal if they were willing to “make real compromises and hard decisions.”
“There are always difficulties, always tensions. I am very confident of our ability to work through them,” Kerry told reporters after the meeting.
Netanyahu rejects a return to the 1967 border lines as “indefensible,” saying it would not take into account the “demographic changes on the ground,” meaning there are Israelis living east of the old border, and they must stay.
Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said this week that Israel is not engaging in peace talks with PLO negotiators.
“There is one party negotiating, and that is us, while the other party is not proposing anything that goes in line with international legitimacy and law,” Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio.
Israel “responds to us not at the negotiating table, but with its bulldozers, settler hooliganism and all kinds of violations in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque and everywhere else, ” he added.
Naturally, the fact that there’s not a shred of truth in any of those allegations did not stop the Ma’an news agency from quoting Rabbo verbatim.