The arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel and the Palestinian Authority has raised speculation as to his plans for the Mideast peace process. However, Israeli state officials are skeptic his meetings will lead to any breakthrough at this stage.
They said that Israel will not meet the Palestinian demand for a map with clear borders before talks can resume.
”We will agree to put borders on the table when we know what we are getting from the Palestinians,” one official said. “Olmert presented a generous map and that led him no where.”
Israel’s stance on security will likely be even tougher than it was three years ago. Netanyahu is slated to insist on strict security arrangements, a demilitarized Palestinian state, a waive on the right of return, Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s right for their own state, and Israeli military control of the Jordan Rift Valley.
The prime minister is convinced that security is of paramount importance in the negotiations in light of instability in the region.
”What happened in Gaza can’t happen in Judea and Samaria,” the official said.
”That is why the Palestinian state must be demilitarized, and we must have control over the Jordan Rift Valley. International forces failed to do anything in the Philadelphi route and Hamas took over in seven hours.”
Referring to the demand that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish people’s right to a state, he said: “Abu Mazen (Abbas) is incapable of uttering those words and that is why he won’t recognize us. To recognize the State of Israel as an existing entity is not what we’re looking for.
”The Iranians recognize Israel’s existence. What is important is the recognition of the Jewish people’s right to a state, and that is what we expect of Abu Mazen.”
Kerry departs Saturday for Istanbul as part of his third trip there in just two weeks.
The US secretary of state will arrive in Israel on Sunday evening and will hold his first meeting in Ramallah. On Monday morning, he will attend a ceremony marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem museum. Kerry will then meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
Kerry is expected to offer Ankara a role to play in the Mideast peace process thanks to its influence with Hamas, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Saturday.