“Kerry threatens to cut PA aid if no peace deal signed”

“Kerry threatens to cut PA aid if no peace deal signed”

Senior Palestinian official says US secretary of state has implied Washington won’t abide failure of talks with Israel

BY ADIV STERMAN . The Times of Israel. Thursday, January 9, 2014

 US Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened to discontinue all American aid to the Palestinian Authority if the current round of negotiations does not result in a peace agreement, a senior Palestinian official claimed Thursday.

 Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the US had implied it would stop giving financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and would not be able to prevent Israeli expansion of West Bank settlements, if a framework for a long-lasting accord was not agreed upon, Maariv reported.

 According to the Israeli daily, Khaled accused Kerry of committing political blackmail by pressuring Palestinians to make concessions.

 “So far, the negotiations did not lead to a significant breakthrough on essential issues,” Khaled reportedly said during a press conference in Ramallah. ”The Palestinian side cannot sign a framework agreement because it does not comply with our minimum requirements and with rights of the Palestinians. We will not give up on the Palestinian cause for money.”

 Kerry has made 10 visits to the region since talks resumed last July, shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders to mediate talks.

 Recently, he has been pushing a framework agreement, as part of his efforts to nudge Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closer to a full treaty that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

 But the two sides have reportedly been at odds over almost every aspect of the core issues involved in a two-state accord. As part of a framework deal designed to keep the talks going past an April deadline, Kerry has been reportedly pushing Netanyahu to agree to negotiations on the basis of a Palestinian state to be established along the pre-1967 lines, with land-swap adjustments, and urging Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 Beyond these points, the two sides are said to disagree over security arrangements, border demarcations, and the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugee demands under a permanent deal. There have also been disputes over who will be released in a final phase of prisoner releases by Israel of terror convicts in the coming months.

 An official in Ramallah told Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam that the meetings recently held between Kerry and the Palestinian leadership failed to reach an agreement on any issue.

 “We talked about everything, but without agreement on anything,” the official said in an article published Monday.

 According to the newspaper, the Palestinians presented their positions on all the issues to Kerry, and are expecting to be presented with the positions of the US secretary of state for the framework agreement.

 Some Hebrew media reports said Kerry may return to the region as early as next week to try again to bridge the gulfs between the sides.

 Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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