During his 10th round of Mideast shuttle diplomacy, Secretary of State John Kerry will try to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree to the outlines of a final peace agreement, but doesn’t expect a “big breakthrough” during his trip to the region this week, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
Furthermore, the much-discussed “framework” agreement would not be a signed document, but would address all core issues, including borders; security; Palestinian refugees; and conflicting claims to Yerushalayim, the official said.
The official also said if the parties agreed on a framework for negotiating a final peace deal, it might not be made public to avoid exposing the leaders to political pressures at home.
A framework might not be enough to ensure a subsequent face-to-face meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, an indication that wide gaps remain.
Israeli and Palestinian politicians on Tuesday staked out “red lines” they claimed their leaders would never cross once presented with Kerry’s widely anticipated proposal for the outlines of a peace deal. In Washington, the official stressed that the framework was not an American plan that would be imposed on the parties. He said a framework would outline the end point of the negotiations, rather than being an interim agreement.
Abbas struck a tough tone in a speech on Tuesday night, saying he would “not hesitate for a moment to say no, regardless of the pressure, to any proposal that contradicts or sidesteps the national interests of our people.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that the United States will increase its financial aid to the PA, though it linked the aid to progress in the peace talks.
The American aid would reportedly rise from $426 million in 2013 to $440 million in 2014, said Maen Rashid Areikat, the head of the PLO delegation in Washington DC.
Despite the increase, the 2014 U.S. aid is significantly lower than previous years. In 2011, the U.S. provided the PA $545 million in aid money, and $495 in 2012.
However, that aid could be overshadowed by the $4 billion economic plan to revitalize the Palestinian economy Kerry introduced a few months ago.