[Thursday July 18 2013] Reuters has reported that U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, will be flying back to the United States on Friday without a positive breakthrough in the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and without any plans that would revive these talks.Before his departure, Kerry likely to phone Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, without closing the door in front of possible direct separate meetings with the two leaders.
He said that he managed to achieve some progress in his talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but not sufficient to restart direct talks.
Reuters has reported that President Abbas held a meeting with a number of leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, but did not come up with any decision, but Abbas formed a committee that would discuss ideas presented by Kerry.
The PLO wanted to present a final response to Kerry, but the committee seems to be unable to reach any decisive conclusion.
The PLO said that the offers presented by Kerry were insufficient, especially since Israel is refusing to hold peace that is based on its withdrawal from the Palestinian territories captured in 1967, adding that the state must be on boundaries that were drawn before the June 4 1967 six-day war.
Kerry remained optimistic in his statements despite the absence of any concrete breakthrough, and only said that the gap between Israel and the Palestinians “has narrowed significantly”.
Furthermore, the White House stated that there are no current plans or initiatives that would restart direct peace talks, and that Kerry will likely hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders before leaving the area Friday. It is unclear whether that talks will be held in person or by phone.
Although Kerry did not declare initiatives, his extensive talks during the six tours in the Middle East since March caught the attention of the Arab League.
He spoke of the Arab Peace Initiative, approved by the 22 countries of the Arab League in 2002 offering peace and normalization with Tel Aviv in return for its withdrawal from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
However, despite a confirmation from the Arab League regarding considering land swap on either side of the border, Tel Aviv said its borders are indefensible, and continued to insist that its settlement blocs in the West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, should always remain part of Israel.
Leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization were not encouraged by the proposals of Kerry, especially since he failed to present any initiatives, and failed focus on Israel’s illegal settlement activities, and its ongoing violations.
Reuters said that, according to Palestinians officials close to Abbas, the President might drop the demand that Israel should halt its settlement activities due to what has been described as slowdown in constructions in Jewish settlements.