Palestinians say peace talks might not happen, after all

Monday, July 22, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

While American and Israeli leaders are already patting themselves on their respective backs over the reported resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the other party to the talks, the Palestinian Authority, is saying everyone should instead hold their respective horses.

Israel is already setting up negotiating teams, and the Obama Administration is praising itself over ostensibly "closing the gaps" that had previously seemed like insurmountable obstacles.

But on Sunday, two of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' most senior advisers said it was by no means certain that bilateral peace talks would take place in the coming weeks, as claimed by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh and Yasser Abed Rabbo, official spokesmen for Abbas, said the Palestinian leader had merely agreed to send a team to Washington to continue the low-level preliminary talks that had already been taking place.

Both Rudeineh and Abed Rabbo would likely be on any official negotiating team. But they aren't heading to Washington, because official negotiations are not on the schedule.

Both men said that from the Palestinians' point of view, the talks scheduled in Washington next week are aimed at convincing Israel to meet the remainder of Palestinian preconditions so that official negotiations can resume at some future date.

Kerry's announcement that official peace talks are about to resume would seem, at best, premature, in light of this clarification.

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