Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas likely to tell Barack Obama he is unwilling to compromise further in peace process with Israel when he visits Washington

Palestinian President’s meeting with US leader reflects his people’s concerns over Israel

Jerusalem

 

When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets US President Obama at the White House today to discuss the troubled US-brokered peace efforts with Israel, his message is likely to be simple: we are at the limits of our flexibility.

With Israel and the Palestinians miles apart on core issues and less than six weeks remaining for US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to find a compromise to enable agreement on a framework to extend the negotiations, the Palestinians are worried they will be the ones pressured to concede, since that is politically easier for the administration than squeezing Israel and colliding with its powerful US lobby.

“There’s nothing more to compromise,” Abdullah Abdullah, deputy commissioner for international relations of Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement, said. “Further compromise means denial of our rights and we won’t do that. President Abbas will stick to his positions.”

However, holding fast is no simple task. The Palestinian leader is anxious to avoid being blamed for a collapse of the process and also needs to keep vital European and American money flowing to the Palestinian Authority.

“We have compromised on every subject,” Mr Abdullah said. Among the examples he cited were borders – by agreeing there could be limited land swaps between the Palestinian state and Israel, and Jerusalem – by agreeing the city would be open and accessible to the adherents of the three monotheistic religions. The Palestinians also believe they made sufficient concession regarding the West Bank’s border with Jordan, by agreeing to an international peacekeeping presence there. Israel wants its own soldiers there.

On Jerusalem, the Palestinians are hoping the US will recognise that the capital of their future state will be centred in the heart of East Jerusalem and not in a peripheral suburb.

Nor will President Abbas accept the Israeli demand that he go beyond the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s recognition of Israel in 1993 and agree to recognise Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish people”, Mr Abdullah said. The Palestinians say this would undermine the standing of Israel’s Arab minority and negate the rights of refugees who fled or were expelled at Israel’s creation. But Israel is not about to drop that demand, even after Mr Kerry last week said Israeli leaders were making a “mistake” by raising it repeatedly.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel Two on Saturday, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Mr Abbas is “not a partner” to a final peace agreement because of his refusal to accord such recognition and that there can be no deal without it.

Despite these seemingly insurmountable differences, Mr Abbas is willing to extend the negotiations provided Israel freezes settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and makes “gestures” concerning Palestinian prisoners it is holding, Mr Abdullah says. An Israeli official, who requested anonymity, ruled out a settlement freeze, saying: “We’ve done that in the past and it didn’t really help.”

The official accused the Palestinian side of “not engaging” in the peace process and said he hoped President Obama could persuade them to face up to the need to make concessions on the Jewish state issue, security arrangements, refugees and Jerusalem.

But he ruled out any redivision of Jerusalem. And he signalled it is unlikely the government will intervene to stop Jewish settlers taking over a strategic property and establishing a seminary in the heart of East Jerusalem’s commercial district, an area Palestinians see as a crucial part of their future capital that was previously not penetrated by settlers.

“If you expect the government to say it’s forbidden for Jews to buy property in Jerusalem, that is not logical,” the official told The Independent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker