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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Palestinians trying to derail peace talks with Israel" (The Telegraph)

From Con Coughlin in The Telegraph:

Most people in the West believe the main reason the talks are not going anywhere is because of Israel's refusal to compromise on its settlement building programme. But while the Netanyahu government's insistence on building settlements is certainly an obstacle, I am told by Western diplomats close to the exploratory talks that are currently taking place in Jordan between the two sides that the real reason they are running into difficulty is because the Palestinian delegation, led by the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is refusing to take the talks seriously.

For example, I am told by a Western diplomat working for the Quartet that when the Israeli delegation arrived for a meeting last weekend in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to present their latest security proposals, Mr Erekat simply refused to enter the room.

My man in the Jordan conference room says that he was surprised at Mr Erekat's behaviour, especially as the topic under discussion was supposed to be one of the two main topics the Palestinian delegation wanted on the agenda for the Jordan talks, which are a precursor for the more formal talks that are supposed to take place once both sides have agreed a negotiating framework.

Mr Erekat's refusal to enter the negotiating room and hear what the Israelis had to say does not bode well for the Quartet's attempts to get the two sides to resume full negotiations, and raises questions about just how serious the Palestinians are about getting a peace deal. With Israel feeling increasingly isolated as world attention focuses on the fall-out from the recent revolts in Libya, Egypt and Syria, there is a growing suspicion among Western diplomats that the Palestinians are working on the basis that, if they draw out the process, they will be able to strike a better deal with Israel.

If that is the case, then they are badly mistaken. The real enemy in the Middle East today is Iran, not Israel, and by playing into the hands of Islamist militants who seek Israel's destruction, the Palestinians could see their cause being overtaken by a far greater regional conflict.

I have previously shown that the Arabic press is saying the same thing, that the Palestinian Arabs never had any intent to negotiate seriously with Israel during this round of talks in Amman and instead have been planning their diplomatic and legal offensive against Israel.

Their lack of good faith has been clear from even before the start of these current talks, as they fought against the Quartet to even do these cosmetic negotiations since September.

(h/t P)

UPDATE: Abbas just said that he does not want to continue the Amman talks, trying (as usual) to blame Israel.