Israel has once again rejected a proposal by an American delegation visiting Israel to bring senior Israeli and Palestinian officials together in a meeting to discuss the stalled peace process.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the meeting would be similar to the one attended by Israeli, US and Arab officials in the Negev in March, but would now include Palestinian officials as well, in preparation for US President Joe Biden's visit to the region in July.
Israeli officials told their US counterparts that it is “a bad idea because it would seem like the beginning of a political process without any guarantee for its success.”
They also stressed that they don’t need mediators to facilitate talks with the Palestinians, noting that both sides maintain permanent contact, in reference to their security cooperation.
This is the second time Israel rejects a proposal to hold talks with Palestinians in a political framework.
Earlier this month, Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman proposed a five-party summit, which would convene the foreign ministers of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States, Egypt and Jordan in Washington or a regional venue, such as Egypt or Jordan.
This came during her meeting with Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata in Washington.
However, Hulata reportedly said that the Israeli government deems the conditions on both sides not ripe for such an initiative and stressed that Israel isn't interested in a “photo-op” that ends with nothing, resulting in an “expectation crisis.”
In Ramallah, Haaretz reported that Palestinians are upset because the current US administration hasn’t made any political changes, but rather adopted a different rhetoric and terminology.
When the US proposed on Palestine to hold this summit, officials stressed that such a meeting should include an Israeli commitment to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, otherwise, the meeting would be useless.
Palestinian officials and diplomats said that all Palestinian appeals to the United States to move forward with a diplomatic process have so far been met with claims that the political situation in Israel is too fragile for talks to resume, Haaretz reported.
“They talk as if only Israel has a government and public opinion that has to be considered,” said one source. “What about Palestinian public opinion and what about the aggression against Palestinians?”
Palestinian officials also reportedly presented the US delegation with a list of demands unrelated to the Israeli government – including the re-opening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem, which serves mainly Palestinians, removing the Palestine Liberation Organization from the US list of terror groups, and restoring the economic aid.
“These are decisions that the United States can make unilaterally and don’t require hollow summit meetings to be advanced,” said one Palestinian official.