PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will meet Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to deliver a letter on the leadership’s position on stalled peace talks.
The missive from President Mahmoud Abbas will reiterate the Palestinian position on talks — demanding an end to all settlement expansion and Israeli acceptance of a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.
It will also insist on the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, PLO official Saeb Erekat said on Sunday. The meeting coincides with the annual Palestinian prisoners’ day, when detainees are expected to launch a mass hunger strike.
Hamas, long opponents of peace talks, said the timing of the meeting amounted to “stabbing Palestinian prisoners in the back.”
“This is just a letter, a step within a series of Palestinian diplomatic procedures in light of the current stalemate,” PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told Ma’an on Sunday evening.
She added that the letter would be important despite the amendments to its content. “The decision to send a letter to the Israelis was taken long ago,” she said.
Palestinian officials said the letter Fayyad will hand over is a watered-down version of previous drafts which suggested the Palestinian Authority, run by Abbas, would dissolve itself or sever ties with Israel if there was no progress.
In a phone call last month, US President Barack Obama cautioned Abbas against provocative actions. Abbas has insisted his letter, which has taken weeks to prepare, would simply remind Israel of its commitments under signed interim peace deals.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Fayyad had tried to avoid taking part in the delegation, as he views the communique as pointless and a media stunt. Erekat denied any disagreement from Fayyad.
Erekat and PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo will accompany the premier to the meeting with Netanyahu and his political adviser Yitzhak Molcho.
They are expected to set a follow-up meeting between Molcho and Abbas in Ramallah, where the Israeli delegate will present Netanyahu’s response, including borders of a Palestinian state and security arrangements, Haaretz reported.
In spite of internal disagreements and a geopolitical climate that has seen the world preoccupied with other issues, the PLO hope the document will articulate their position ahead of any renewed push for UN statehood.
“We know that 2012 is a year of political vacuum. The US is busy with elections, the EU with the euro, the Arab world with the (Arab) spring,” Fatah central committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh said.
Nonetheless, the Palestinian leadership plan to take their case to the UN General Assembly after failing to secure backing at the Security Council in 2011.
“Going to the General Assembly this year will be an important step. We have a majority there, and no one has a veto,” he said.
The PLO — currently listed as an observer “entity” with no voting rights — applied for full membership of the UN on Sept. 23. An admissions committee said on Nov. 11 it had failed to reach an agreement on the bid.
Abbas said last week if peace talks remain stalled, he will pursue the second option at the General Assembly, which can upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer state, like the Vatican.