May 7, 2014 15:21
by Pesach Benson
Haaretz obtained a copy of a letter (pdf format) suggesting hard proof that the Palestinians deliberately sabotaged peace efforts. The letter was written by Israeli national security adviser Joseph Cohen to a number of foreign diplomats:
Attached to the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, is a 65-page document that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 9, three weeks before Israel was to release the final batch of Palestinian prisoners. In it, Erekat proposed a strategy for the PA during the final month of negotiations and after April 29, when the talks were originally scheduled to end before their premature collapse.
Erekat recommended applying to join various international conventions, informing the U.S. and Europe that the Palestinians wouldn’t extend the talks beyond April 29, demanding that Israel nevertheless release the final batch of prisoners, intensifying efforts to reconcile with Hamas to thwart what he termed an Israeli effort to sever the West Bank from Gaza politically, and various other diplomatic and public relations moves.
Over the past month, the PA has implemented most of Erekat’s recommendations. This, Cohen wrote in his letter, shows that even while the Palestinians were talking with Washington about the possibility of extending the peace talks, they were actually planning to blow them up, and had been planning to do so even before Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama on March 17.
More on this at the Times of Israel.
The blame game over the collapsed peace talks continues. Martin Indyk offered his own take in his first address since negotiations unravelled. As you’ll see in the State Department’s full transcript, Indyk puts a lot of blame on Israeli settlements. But trying to maintain a sense of impartiality and credibility for future talks, American officials told Jeffrey Goldberg they also blame the Palestinians. Israeli officials fired back at Indyk, as Reuters describes:
But a senior Israeli official familiar with the talks accused Indyk of hypocrisy, saying he had known construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue during the discussions . . .
The Israeli official said Indyk had been informed of the construction plans, down to the number of homes.
“Furthermore, he knew that it was on this basis that Israel agreed to enter the talks,” the Israeli official said. “So it’s not clear why now that should be criticized.”