Israelis, Palestinians try to salvage talks
Published Monday 07/04/2014 (updated) 09/04/2014 11:01
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014
(POOL/AFP/File Jacquelyn Martin)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to meet again on Monday in a fresh effort to salvage the teetering, US-brokered peace process, US and Palestinian officials said.
"Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met last night to discuss ways to overcome the crisis in the talks," a US official said.
"The meeting was serious and constructive, and both sides requested that the United States convene another meeting today (Monday) to continue the effort."
A Palestinian official confirmed to AFP that a meeting was scheduled for later Monday, but neither side gave a time or location.
Accompanied by US envoy Martin Indyk, the two sides met on Sunday evening, but Palestinian sources told AFP that the session ended without any breakthrough and an Israeli official was quoted by local media as saying the process was on the edge of collapse.
Israel's parliament was also meeting in special session on Monday during its spring recess, for a debate on the peace negotiations called by opposition MPs critical of the government's handling of the talks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened to retaliate if the PLO proceeds with applications to sign up to 15 international treaties.
"These will only make a peace agreement more distant," he said of the applications the PLO made on Tuesday.
"Any unilateral moves they take will be answered by unilateral moves at our end."
Palestinians say Israel had already reneged on its own undertakings by failing to release a fourth and final batch of prisoners a week ago, and that the treaty move was their response.
"They refused to free the prisoners and that's why there's no progress," said a Palestinian source.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, the driving force behind the peace push, warned on Friday that there were "limits" to the time and energy Washington could devote to the talks process, as his appeals to both sides to step back from the brink fell on deaf ears.
President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Kerry's plea to withdraw the treaty applications, and Netanyahu ignored US appeals to refrain from tit-for-tat moves, asking for a range of retaliatory options.