CMEP Bulletin: Abbas meets with Obama
Weekly Churches for Middle East Peace update on diplomatic and other topics
On Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the peace process and the framework for a final agreement. The results of the meeting were similar to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s White House meeting two weeks ago: there was little apparent progress.
While the substance of the talks has been kept mostly under wraps, it is not a secret that the Israelis and Palestinians still have large gaps in their negotiating positions. When Secretary Kerry reconvened the talks in July, he set an April 29 deadline to put pressure on the parties to negotiate seriously. With that deadline fast approaching, a meaningful framework agreement could push back the deadline while bridging the gaps on core issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees. But he needs is the Israelis and Palestinians to sign on. It is not yet clear if that is possible.
President Obama’s role this week was to soften President Abbas’ stance on framework issues. He commended Abbas for, “consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security,” and he spoke of the political risks he wants the both Abbas and Netanyahu to take.
President Abbas took the opportunity to advocate for the Palestinian negotiating positions. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “We put a map to president Obama, showed him the extent of what happened since we began [negotiations] in July… It is a very ugly map. This was supposed to be land of the Palestinian state.” Erekat also said that no framework document was presented to them in the meeting.