For a second time this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Reporters were told late Tuesday evening that Kerry’s meeting today (Wednesday) with Abbas was cancelled, with few details added. “We are no longer traveling tomorrow,” a senior State Department official said simply.
Abbas breached the conditions of his agreement with Israel – and the United States – by signing a PA application for membership in 15 United Nations agencies and organizations. “The demands (for membership) will be sent immediately,” Abbas announced at a briefing. “This is not a move against America or any other party. It is our right and we agreed to suspend it for nine months.”
The deadline for completion of the framework agreement talks was set for April 29. But Abbas has not actively participated in direct talks for months, according to reports quoting government minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua). Nor has the PA made any “good will gestures” towards Israel comparable to those forced upon the Jewish States by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, the PA’s unilateral move is one that turns the clock back more than a year, dialing back efforts by John Kerry to keep the entity from attempting to unilaterally gain recognition in the U.N. as an independent sovereign nation. It also is a return to its attempt to evade the agreement it signed in the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords in 1993.
Two days earlier the PA chairman was have met with Kerry in Ramallah following talks between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Secretary of State. But the meeting in Jerusalem ran longer than expected and John Kerry had to race for his flight to make a two-day meeting in Brussels.
The Israeli-PA negotiations over a “framework agreement” have been limping along for months now, with Israel making what appears to be all of the concessions. As a ‘good will gesture’ to bring Abbas to the table and keep him there, Israel agreed to free 104 PA terrorist prisoners in four separate tranches linked to the PA leader’s active participation in the talks. Three of the four have already been made, with some 78 terrorists freed.
The fourth and final group of terrorists scheduled to be released last week, however, included 20 Israeli Arab citizens – and at that point both government ministers and the entire Israeli population balked.