Abbas Netanyahu Peace Talks go Sour; Israel Cancels First Meeting

Atmosphere of optimism with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s return from the summit with Mahmoud Abbas in Washington? Not so fast. Israel intends to cancel the first meeting between the heads of the respective negotiating teams that was supposed to take place tomorrow, after the Palestinian side leaked word of the talks to the media.

This was supposed to be the first meeting between the sides that was to take place tomorrow in Jericho between chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the Israeli representative, Yitzchak Molcho. Today the Prime Minister cut short a discussion in the cabinet about the negotiations and made it clear to the ministers that at the moment there is nothing to talk about and that any decision will be brought to the government for approval.

Israel sees the breach of the secrecy of the meeting planned for tomorrow as a disregard for the agreements accepted in the presence of the Americans, and as a blow to the trust between both sides. The Israeli representatives claim that the Arabs, among them Nabil Sha’ath, were well aware of the importance of the secrecy of the meeting.

Head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who is currently on a visit in North Africa, has said that the negotiations which will begin next week in Sharm el Sheikh will deal first and foremost with the subjects of security and borders. According to Abbas, there is a chance that the process will progress if the Israeli government will prevent a renewal of construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Meanwhile, the background of the pictures taken the last time Netanyahu and Abbas shook hands under the auspices of US President Barack Obama has changed. In 2009, the only two flags visible were that of Israel and the United States. This time, the Palestinian flag is clearly visible on the right.