There are reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry recently blocked a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, Abbas met in Paris with four retired Israeli ambassadors. He reportedly told them that he had expressed willingness recently to meet with Netanyahu but that “a third party who is not Israeli” had blocked the meeting.
Sources claim that Netanyahu has been communicating to Abbas via official, unofficial, public, and private channels, saying that he would like to resume negotiations. It is known that in the beginning of the month, Netanyahu announced to the Israeli press that he was, “prepared to go to Ramallah or anywhere else right now to meet and hold direct negotiations without preconditions.” This came amid rumors of secret contacts between the two leaders.
PA and Israeli officials claim “an official who is not American” tried to initiate this meeting. Abbas responded positively but said he had to consult with Kerry on the matter. Palestinian and Israeli officials said Kerry asked Abbas not to hold the meeting and to wait a few weeks until the two met at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Such a claim seems incredible since Kerry has been trying to orchestrate negotiations in the Middle East for several years. A meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu would have been a major breakthrough. It has been conjectured that Kerry wanted to ensure that he would be involved in talks and he was, at the time, involved in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program.
Kerry and Abbas met on Saturday at the UN General Assembly. Israel Radio reported that they discussed the “bombshell” announcement Abbas promised to make at the General Assembly when he addresses them on Wednesday, and that Kerry had asked him to delay it. Netanyahu is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Thursday.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the details of the report were inaccurate. American officials claim that Abbas is under pressure since Netanyahu has expressed a desire to meet, so he is trying to put the blame for failure to meet onto Kerry.