US mid east envoy plans return to jump start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
OSAMA FALAH (PPO/AFP)
US Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt is due to return to Israel and the West Bank territories as the United States seeks to ramp up the process for renewing peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.
The visit will possibly take place June 24, the last day of Ramadan, said a senior Israeli official, reported Haaretz on Sunday.
Greenblatt will meet with both the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and his Palestinian counterpart President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as the current administration looks to draft an American statement of principles for negotiating peace talks between the longstanding adversaries.
"The Americans have ideas and drafts for principles for the renewing of the negotiations," said another Israeli source with details of the negotiations to Haaretz.
"The White House made preparations and held consultations with a number of people in order in order to map the positions of the sides and the talks with Netanyahu and Abbas are a part of this process."
According to Haaretz, the leaders will lay out the core issues regarding borders, security, settlement building, refugees and the status of Jerusalem, so that the Americans can begin to map out and draft a document to renew negotiations.
The meetings will serve as a starting point in determining how to proceed with such negotiations.
"The current administration has a strong will to put something on the table," said Netanyahu in a closed meeting between fellow Likud party members. "We have many positions that are important to us, and this doesn't mean that what we tell them is acceptable to them."
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his eagerness to reach a peace agreement, calling it "the ultimate deal."
While in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump met with both leaders separately, where he expressed his commitment to reaching a peace deal and added that he believes both were ready to “reach for peace.”
However, in past statements he sidestepped any firm stance on whether he supported a one or two-state solution, saying he “liked both.”
The unpredictable leader has also unprecedentedly avoided condemning the construction of settlements in the West Bank and walked back on promises that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
One issue that seems to stand firm is the Palestinian Authority’s payments to convicted terrorists and their families, saying he won’t tolerate handing out cash to families of terrorists guilty of murdering Israelis and Americans.
“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded,” he told Abbas in their May meeting.
Ahead of President Trump’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to stop funding terrorists to “prove” they want peace.
He stated that they are giving hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis to terrorists and the families of terrorists responsible for murdering Israelis and Americans.
On Tuesday, a former Palestinian minister and current member of the Fatah Central Committee, Hussein Al-Sheikh told an interviewer that the Palestinian Authority would not halt payments to terrorists or their families and that the issue was "not under discussion by any party whatsoever," despite a previous statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said they had “changed that policy.”
"They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others,” said Tillerson in a public senate hearing. “We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us."
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