Peace talks still stalled as Palestinians present new preconditions

Friday, July 19, 2013 |  Tommy Mueller

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday presented a whole new list of demands before he will resume peace talks with Israel, once again putting the success of US Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East mission in jeopardy.

First off, the Palestinian leader wants to build an airport in Ramallah that will be totally under Palestinian control, meaning the Palestinian Authority will control the airspace over at least central Samaria and parts of neighboring Jerusalem.

Second, Israel must withdraw from parts of the Dead Sea, where the Palestinians want to establish their own hotel and resort facilities.

Third, the territorial waters of Gaza must be extended to allow the Palestinian Authority to tap some of the natural gas reserves still being discovered off the Mediterranean coast.

And lastly, demonstrating that a Palestinian state will in fact not be a viable independent entity, Abbas demands a significant increase in the number of work permits granted to Palestinian Arabs to work inside Israel proper.

Abbas presented these demands during a meeting with Kerry in the Jordanian capital Amman. Israeli media suggest that the Netanyahu government will reject most of the demands, which were never part of the original interim agreements.

However, as a gesture of goodwill demonstrating that Israel does want to see the resumption of negotiations, the Israeli army on Thursday announced the dismantling of checkpoints across the so-called "West Bank." The decision will provide greater freedom of movement to local Palestinians, at the cost of deteriorated security for the Jews living in the area.

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