x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Palestinian PM optimistic at US efforts on peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US secretary of state, John Kerry, had made 'useful and constructive proposals' in his four-day visit last week but they needed further clarification and explanation before negotiations could resume.

RAMALLAH // Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that the US secretary of state, John Kerry, had made "useful and constructive proposals" in his four-day visit last week and said he was "optimistic" about the outcome.

Mr Abbas's remarks, at a news conference with visiting Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, came after Mr Kerry's latest attempt to coax Israel and the Palestinians back into direct peace talks.

"Kerry made useful and constructive proposals and we are not saying they were bad, but they need further clarification and explanation before we can return to negotiations," Mr Abbas said. "We are optimistic because Kerry is serious and determined to reach a solution. We hope to go back to negotiations very soon to address the core issues between us and the Israelis."

Mr Kerry flew out of the region on Sunday but left behind several of his advisers and is expected to return soon, Mr Abbas said.

Amin Maqbul, a senior official in Mr Abbas's ruling Fatah movement, said that "settlements remain the main obstacle to a resumption of negotiations" and called for added US pressure on the Israeli government on all issues.

Also yesterday, an Israel-Palestinian survey showed that most people hold little hope that talks would result in a resumption of direct talks after a hiatus of nearly three years.

According to a joint poll by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, 27 per cent of Palestinians and one in 10 Israelis, believe that talks will resume and violence will end.