April 4, 2013
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to suspend all unilateral measures vis-à-vis the United Nations agencies to give U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry time to jump-start a new round of Israeli-Palestinian talks. This, according to one high-level official on each side. Both men asked not to be identified.
Abbas passed a resolution to this effect at Tuesday’s Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah.
“For a limited and specified period of time a new opportunity will be given to international efforts under way to break the deadlock in the peace process,” the resolution read. It went on to say, “In the event Israel thwarts such efforts, we will again turn to international organizations.”
Both sources gave the timeframe of the suspension of the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to secure member-state status in various UN agencies as around eight weeks starting on March 22, when U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his visit to the region, with a possible four-week extension.
After the final deadline the Palestinians will assess the prospects of the U.S. efforts. The Israeli source noted that Kerry has said he would allocate three to six months to the process, suggesting that Abbas might agree to an additional extension.
The Palestinians have also decided to put off applying to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to sign the Rome Statute and thus obtain standing in the court as a state.
Only after such standing is granted could the ICC hear claims from individual Palestinians against senior Israeli officials regarding their alleged war crimes in the West Bank.
According to sources, the PA would reverse its decision not to pursue standing vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court in the event Israel goes ahead with construction in the E-1 corridor linking Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
On Saturday Kerry is to begin his second round of shuttle diplomacy in the region, meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sunday before flying to Amman for talks with both Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
On Monday Kerry will arrive in Israel. He will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is coordinating the government’s negotiations with the Palestinians.
Kerry might go to Ramallah on Tuesday morning for more meetings with Palestinians.
The secretary of state’s next stop after Israel is London, for meetings on the situation in Syria and in Afghanistan.
In related news, Israel’s inner cabinet today discussed the Palestinian issue at length in advance of Kerry’s return to the region.
Military Intelligence director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Shin Bet security service head Yoram Cohen and the IDF’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Eitan Dangot, briefed the ministers on the political and security situations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
One of the purposes of the meeting was to bring new inner cabinet members Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Gilad Erdan up to speed on the Palestinian issue.