Israeli paper, Haaretz, reported that Palestinian and Israeli officials are holding separate underground talks with U.S. officials in Washington as part of what was described as the American efforts to resume the stalled peace talks.The talks also aim at stopping the Palestinians from heading to the United Nations this coming September to seek international recognition of statehood.
Furthermore, the United States rejected the French initiative to hold a peace conference in Paris.
The talks in Washington are headed by Israel’s envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, and former Chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, in addition to Palestinian Presidency spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rodeina.
According to Haaretz, the Palestinian and Israeli sides are not holding direct talks, but are holding separate talks with U.S. officials.
The officials were invited to Washington after France declared its initiative for resuming peace talks based on principles set by U.S. President, Barack Obama.
On Monday, French Foreign Minister, Alain Joppe, held a meeting with his American counterpart, Hilary Clinton, and discussed the French initiative.
Following the meeting, Clinton told the press that “there is no benefit from holding a peace conference in France”, adding that such a conference will be infective as the Palestinians and Israel have not expressed full readiness to resume the talks” to return to the negotiations table.
“We will have to wait and see what happens”, Clinton said, “We have fears regarding the role of the Hamas movement in these talks”.
She further stated that Washington will continue to hold talks with Israel and the Palestinians, and that the White House made it clear to both sides that the current situation cannot continue, and that “unilateral actions, such as heading to the United Nations, will not lead to statehood”.
On his part, Joppe stated that the main concern of France is what will happen in September, and that the only way to avoid this is through direct peace talks.
Furthermore, Haaretz said that Palestinian negotiator, Erekat, denied holding any direct or indirect talks with Israel, and added that he did not even know that Molcho was in Washington.
The Palestinians withdrew from the talks with Israel due to its resumption of settlement construction and expansion in the occupied territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem, and due Israel’s ongoing violations in the occupied territories.