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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor