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European Diplomats Vainly Trying to Set Up Netanyahu-Abbas Meeting

The Palestinians want a preliminary meeting between chief negotiators ahead of the peace summit that Paris aims to convene by the year's end, but the Israelis insist on going straight to the main event.

In recent weeks, European officials have tried to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli and Palestinian officials says the efforts were unsuccessful and each side casts the blame on the other. The Palestinian officials said a European official recently contacted Netanyahu’s and Abbas’ offices to try to set up a meeting between the two.
They said Abbas did not reject the idea outright to avoid being cast as an obstructionist. Abbas requested that before a meeting between the two leaders, a leading Palestinian figure, such as Palestinian negotiating team leader Dr. Saeb Erekat, have a meeting with an emissary from the Prime Minister’s Office, possibly Erekat’s counterpart Yitzhak Molho, to prepare the meeting and the topics to be covered. The Palestinians said they were ready to discuss a resumption of peace talks with Israel on conditions including a settlement freeze and the release of the fourth round of Palestinian prisoners, who were not released in March 2014 under the peace initiative of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
A senior Palestinian official says there was no Arab pressure on this matter, notably none from Egypt. He describes it as an attempt by European officials to get the process moving prior to the summit that Paris is eager to convene by the end of this year. “We don’t want a meeting that’s just for PR and photo ops. We proposed a professional, very high-level meeting prior to the summit to understand where Netanyahu is willing to go, but we haven’t heard any answer or readiness for this. Netanyahu wants a meeting with Abbas for the photo op and perhaps for another campaign of meaningless negotiations that will only be a waste of time and possibly erode the French initiative, but no more than that. So we brought a practical proposal for a serious and professional meeting before the summit, and it was turned down.”
Erekat-Molho first?
Israeli officials confirm that there was an attempt by officials from a European country to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas. And they say similar attempts have been made over the past two years. They say that Israel agreed to a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, but did not agree to a preliminary meeting between Erekat and Molho, maintaining that it would not advance the meeting between the two leaders. “The prime minister is ready to meet with Abu Mazen [Abbas] at any time, without any preconditions,” the Israeli official said. “Past experience shows that the preliminary meetings demanded by the Palestinians are just a means for imposing preconditions for negotiations, which is unacceptable to Israel. If Abu Mazen wants to meet, the prime minister is ready to do so immediately, anywhere.”
An official in the Palestinian president’s office also told Haaretz that the Palestinians have no concrete information regarding any proposal or outline that U.S. President Barack Obama is planning to put forward in the coming months, in particular during the time between the presidential election and the inauguration of the next president: “There are talks and contacts but nothing we can hold on to or build a policy or operative steps upon. Our expectation from the Americans was that more could have been done long ago and not just at the end of the president’s term when everyone is already looking ahead to the next administration.”
Privately, Palestinian leaders say that if the administration had made the establishment of a Palestinian state a strategic objective, it would have happened: “When President Obama wanted to attain an accord with Iran, he was able to do so, and all of Netanyahu’s attempts to thwart it, including his trip to Washington and speech to Congress, didn’t change the president’s position.,” said one Palestinian official. “On the Palestinian issue, the administration would not have objected to an accord if the parties, especially the Israeli government, sought one, but it was not at all prepared to lead an international move for an accord despite all the repeated declarations about commitment to the two-state solution.”

Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.737901Schermata 2016 08 21 alle 21.58.58

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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