Hamas rejects extension of negotiations
Published Tuesday 01/04/2014 (updated) 03/04/2014 13:17
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is welcomed by Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014
(POOL/AFP Jacquelyn Martin)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas said on Tuesday that it rejects the extension of negotiations with Israel, and called on the Palestinian Authority to “stop this travesty.”
The extension of talks would mark the “genuine ending of the Palestinian cause”, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
US peace efforts are teetering on the brink of collapse after Israel refused to free a fourth and final group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners which would have completed an agreement that brought the sides back to the negotiating table in July 2013.
Furious Palestinian officials have warned that unless Israel changes its stance on the prisoner releases, it could signal the end of the negotiations, which are in any case due to draw to a close on April 29.
US efforts are currently focused on getting the parties to agree an extension to the end of the year.
Secretary of State John Kerry met Tuesday for two hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before entering talks with Palestinian negotiators at his Jerusalem hotel.
Early on Tuesday, he held a second two-hour meeting with Netanyahu, with sources close to the talks saying they discussed a deal to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a way of breaking the log-jam in the negotiations.
Shortly after his breakfast meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry was back on a plane heading to Europe for a NATO meeting in Brussels.
But a senior Palestinian source told AFP he would return within 24 hours for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Kerry will fly to Europe today for previous engagements and will come back to meet the president tomorrow at noon (0900 GMT)," the Palestinian source told AFP.
Kerry had been due to meet Abbas late on Monday but the meeting was cancelled.