After Palestinian leaders demanded further guarantees before restarting talks with Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed his ideas with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday.
A stormy, high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss U.S Kerry’s latest peace proposal ended with a decision early Friday to demand that Israel agree on the general border of a future Palestinian state, officials said.
The demand casts a cloud of uncertainty over months of U.S. mediation efforts because Israel rejects preconditions.
Hoping to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks, President Barack Obama asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work with Kerry “to resume negotiations with Palestinians as soon as possible,” according to a statement released by the White House late Thursday.
The Palestinians demand is that the starting point for border talks must be the cease-fire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank. Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Palestinians claim those territories for their future state, with modifications reached through agreed land swaps that could allow major Jewish settlement blocs built in the West Bank becoming part of Israel proper, in exchange for territories in Israel.
Previous Israeli governments twice negotiated on the basis of the 1967 lines, but no peace accord was reached.
Palestinian official Wasel Abu Yussef said Erekat would ask for more clarifications from Kerry on what Israel expects from negotiations.
Abu Yussef said Palestinians did not want to reject Kerry’s efforts to restart negotiations outright.
The Palestinians did not bring up their often-repeated demand that Israel stop building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem before talks could resume. One official said that if Israel accepts the 1967 lines as a basis, that would make most of the settlements illegitimate.
While Kerry has not publicized details of his plan, the Arab League’s decision Wednesday to endorse his proposal raised speculation that the Palestinians would agree. Abbas traditionally has sought the blessing of his Arab brethren before making any major diplomatic initiative.
U.S. officials played down hopes that negotiations would begin soon.
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