Half the Quartet failed to move Netanyahu

Half the Quartet was in Israel last week (the EU’s Catherine Ashton, and U.S. Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell) — and they failed to move Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to agree to extend, even a little bit, his unilateral 10-month settlement freeze that expired on 26 September.

The Palestinian leadership gave the USA an additional four days — until 30 September — to keep trying.

But, there was no movement.

After that, the rump PLO leadership and the Fatah Central Committee meet in the Presidential headquarters in Ramallah, and urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stop “direct” talks with Israel as long as there is any settlement construction going on. Following Saturday’s meeting, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, said that “The leadership confirms that the resumption of talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements”…

Netanyahu said there should be no preconditions.

An Arab League summit meeting is due to convene in Sirte, Libya, on 8 October. Palestinian proposals to have earlier emergency consultations with the Arab League have been cancelled.

Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Dahlan was reported by Ma’an News Agency as saying that Abbas will tender his resignation when the Arab League summit meeting does open. Dahlan is in charge of the Media portfolio for Fatah. His comments are reported here.

[So, Abbas will not resign in front of his own people, but rather in front of Arab leaders?]

Meanwhile, Abbas is saying he still intends to work with the U.S. to find a solution…

Meanwhile, Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reports on Sunday that, so far, “Netanyahu refused to hold a serious discussion on any of the core issues apart from security, Abbas reportedly told diplomats he met at the UN General Assembly. Israeli and foreign sources say the main problem is that Netanyahu refuses to present fundamental positions or discuss the borders of the Palestinian state … Five Israeli and foreign diplomats, who were briefed about the Netanyahu-Abbas meetings by one of the parties or by senior American officials, said prospects for progress in the talks remained gloomy, even if the construction crisis were solved. The two first meetings, held during the talks’ launch in Washington on September 2 and at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on September 14, mainly dealt with technical matters like the order of the topics to be discussed and the future of the construction freeze in the settlements. The first meeting dealt with setting a date for the next meeting and with formulating a ‘conduct code’ for the talks, mainly to prevent leaks. They also discussed the construction freeze and what to discuss first – security or borders. After the second meeting, Mitchell said the parties had discussed seriously and in detail core issues of the final status arrangement. But officials briefed about that meeting said it dealt with an attempt to define the ‘core issues’ rather than presenting positions on them. The sources said this discussion was strange as at least two Israeli governments had reached an agreement with the Palestinians on this issue. The sources said the sterile discussion about whether to discuss borders or security first, or both issues simultaneously, continued. Mitchell described the third meeting, held on September 15 in Jerusalem, as very positive and said it made considerable progress. Here too officials familiar with the talks said the opposite is true. Abbas presented Netanyahu with all the details of his talks with former prime minister Ehud Olmert and the current Palestinian stands on borders, security, the refugees, Jerusalem and the settlements. Netanyahu refused to comment on the Palestinian positions, especially on the borders, and would only present his position on the security arrangements. Abbas was ‘alarmed’ to hear at that meeting that Netanyahu was interested in reaching a framework agreement within a year, but in implementing it over a period of at least 20 years, a European diplomat said … A source close to the prime minister confirmed that Netanyahu refused to go into core issues such as the borders in detail“. This report is posted here.

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