US officials in Washington called for a ‘holding period’ in the peace process, following a recently expired deadline for coming to an agreement.US Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently satisfied with his own part in the peace process, and is ready to ‘dive back in’ if asked, according to US officials.
‘The original negotiating period was set to run until April 29th, today. There’s nothing special about that date now,’ said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to reporters in D.C., but Kerry has ‘no regrets about the time he spent investing in this process.’
‘We’ve reached a point… where a pause is necessary ….a holding period, where parties will figure out what they want to do next,’ she said.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders expressed openness in resuming talks. However, the precluding demands insisted upon by both sides remain likely to be unacceptable to either.
A senior Israeli official affirmed that there would be no further dialog unless Abbas renounced the reconciliation pact he signed, last week, with Hamas.
US lawmakers and officials declared, on Tuesday, that Palestinian leaders risk losing millions in US aid, should they continue with plans to form a unity government which includes members of Hamas.
Assistant Secretary for the Near East, Anne Patterson, said before a House hearing, ‘Let me be utterly clear about our policy towards Hamas… no US governmental money will go into any government that includes Hamas until Hamas accepts the Quartet conditions. And that’s renouncing violence, recognizing previous agreements, and most explicitly recognizing Israel’s right to exist.’
Abbas: ‘If we want to extend the negotiations there has to be a release of prisoners ….a settlement freeze, and a discussion of maps and borders for three months, during which there must be a complete halt to settlement activity.’
More than 800,000 Palestinians, including children, have been kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel since the illegal 1967 occupation, and at least 5,000 Palestinians are still currently held captive by the Israeli regime.
Furthermore, nearly 14,000 new settler homes were approved by the Israeli government, during the nine months of ‘peace talks’, in addition to over 500 Palestinian structures being demolished throughout the US-brokered negotiations.