U.S. works on outline for Israel-Palestinian peace deal ahead of April deadline
WASHINGTON — The United States will begin this week to present potential solutions to disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians as an April deadline for a peace deal approaches, a senior State Department official close to negotiations said on Tuesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry will test American proposals during meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, set to begin Thursday when he returns to the region. The goal is an outline to guide the most intensive and difficult phase of the direct negotiations Kerry prodded the two sides to begin last summer.
Kerry set a nine-month deadline that would produce a final peace deal by late April that would establish an independent Palestinian state by late April. The framework agreement at issue would commit the two sides to the parameters of a final deal.
Details would be filled in over the next few months, but the outline would be a milestone that shows the largely secretive discussions are worthwhile.
A senior U.S. official said Kerry does not expect “breakthroughs” this week, but he wants the two sides to agree to the framework terms fairly soon. Those terms would govern talks on the thorniest issues, such as the borders of a Palestinian state on land Israel occupies, and they would make it hard for either side to backtrack.
All sides have acknowledged that the ambitious timeline to resolve the decades-old conflict could slip, but Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have kept their word to remain at the table for talks that have now gone about 20 rounds.
Israel held to a key condition for talks early Tuesday, with the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences for killing Israelis. It was the third of four scheduled releases for a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners, all serving 19 years or more in Israeli jails for crimes committed before the 1993 signing of the Oslo accords.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in turn, has held off on plans to seek further recognition of the Palestinian government through the United Nations, a path that could confer de facto statehood without input from Israel. The United States opposes that route.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas have not met directly since talks resumed in July. A face-to-face meeting, possibly with Kerry as moderator, would be a significant sign of progress. The senior U.S. official said such a meeting would likely follow agreement on the framework terms.
The official acknowledged the risks of raising the profile of talks to that level, given that the last direct talks between Abbas and Netanyahu ended with each accusing the other of intransigence and obstructionism. All direct talks halted with that brief 2010 exchange.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.