The fate of the Middle East lies in the hands of Israel and the Palestinians, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned after he met with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the collapse of peace talks.
AFP reported that Kerry and Abbas held an almost two hour long meeting in London where they discussed the fate of the peace process and the dividing factors surrounding negotiations.
“Secretary Kerry made clear that while the door remains open to peace, it is up to the parties to determine whether they are willing to take the steps necessary to resume negotiations,” a senior State Department official stated. “The Secretary continues to believe that. The President continues to believe that that’s the best step forward for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Meeting for “informal” talks in an upscale London hotel, the US has tried to downplay the importance of the meeting in re-starting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
After many months of negotiations and several intense weeks leading up the deadline of the last round of negotiations, Israel officially suspended its participation in all talks after Abbas announced that the Palestine Liberation Organization – dominated by Fatah – was creating a united government with Hamas, a Gaza-based terrorist organization.
Since 1993, Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. Both Israel and the US have condemned the move of a united Palestinian government. Israel has stated it would never negotiate with a government full of terrorists and has imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.
Top US officials have warned the PA that should it unite with Hamas, all US funding, in the sum of some $440 million annually, would be immediately suspended. US law forbids the government to fund any organization with known associations with terrorists.
Before meeting with Kerry, Ababs met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, where he updated the prime minister on Palestinian peace efforts.
“President Abbas outlined his plans for a new, technocratic Palestinian government, committed to the Quartet principles, including non-violence and the recognition of Israel,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “He also expressed his readiness to resume peace talks with Israel and his hope that this could be achieved rapidly.”
Cameron urged Abbas to “make progress towards securing the rapid resumption of peace talks, which remain the only viable route to a lasting solution.”