Abed Rabbo: Washington Talks to Lay Ground for Negotiations

RAMALLAH, July 29, 2013 (WAFA) – The Palestinian-Israeli talks that are expected to start in Washington on Tuesday are supposed to lay the ground for the more serious negotiations, Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization and negotiations’ spokesman, said Monday.

He told Voice of Palestine that before starting negotiations, there remains “some procedural and political issues that need to be clarified.”

He said once these issues are resolved, they should become binding to both sides before negotiations actually resume.

He said the negotiations will be held “at home.”

United States Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday extended an official invitation to President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to send their senior negotiators to Washington “to formally resume direct final status negotiations,” according to US State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki.

The US Ambassador to Jordan handed Abbas the invitation in the Jordanian capital, Amman, which Abed Rabbo said did not include any political statement.

Abbas also received a telephone call from Kerry, who said the first meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators “aims at developing a procedural workplan for the two parties to move forward in the negotiations in the coming months,” according to presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Psaki also confirmed that the talks “will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”

The Palestinian team, which will be composed of Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh, is supposed to meet its Israeli counterpart represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho on Monday evening Washington time and continue on Tuesday.

Abed Rabbo said the talks in Washington should resolve the issue of the terms of reference for negotiations, which the Palestinians said should be based on the 1967 borders.

He also said the talks need to remove any ambiguity regarding the Israeli decision made on Sunday to release 104 Palestinian prisoners held since before the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

He said the Israeli cabinet decision approving the release was not clear in light of reports that Palestinian prisoners from inside Israel will not be among those to be freed and that the release, which will take place in four stages, will be contingent on progress in the negotiations.

“Absolutely no one should be excluded,” said Abed Rabbo.

Abed Rabbo also criticized what he described as bilateral Israeli-US talks on security without including the Palestinians, demanding that this matter, which he described as a mistake, needs to be corrected.

While the negotiations are supposed to discuss issues of borders and security, said Abed Rabbo, they will also focus on other permanent status issues including settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, water and other matters.

source : WAFA NEWS