Egyptian Daily Reveals Minutes Of Secret Palestinian Authority Meeting With John Kerry, Susan Rice; U.S.-Pal Coordination On UNSC 2334. (Memri).
In mid-December 2016, a Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation met in Washington with officials from the outgoing Obama administration for secret talks. On December 27, the Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabi', which is close to Egyptian intelligence services, published an exposé of the minutes of the secret talks.
According to the report, by Ahmed Gomaa, the Palestinian delegation included PLO Executive Committee secretary and negotiating team leader Saeb Erekat; Palestinian general intelligence chief Majid Faraj; Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs advisor to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud 'Abbas; Palestinian Foreign Ministry official Dr. Majed Bamya; Palestinian negotiations department official Azem Bishara; Palestinian intelligence international relations department chief Nasser 'Adwa; and head of the PLO delegation to Washington Ma'an Erekat.
According to the report, the minutes of the "top secret" meeting of Kerry, Rice, Erekat, and Faraj reveals U.S.-Palestinian coordination leading up to the UN Security Council vote on Resolution 2334 regarding Israel's settlements, which was adopted December 23. It states that the sides "agreed to cooperate in drafting a resolution on the settlements" and that the U.S. representative in the Security Council was "empowered" to coordinate with the Palestinian UN representative on the resolution.
The meeting also, according to the report, was aimed at coordinating Kerry's attendance at the upcoming international Paris Conference set for January 15, 2017, in order to promote a further international move regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kerry, it said, offered to propose his ideas for a permanent arrangement "provided that they are supported by the Palestinian side."
At the meeting, Rice pointed out the "danger" of the incoming Trump administration's policies, the report stated, adding that both she and Kerry had advised President 'Abbas to make no preliminary moves that might provoke the new administration. Rice even offered to help arrange a meeting between the Palestinian delegation and a representative from the Trump team, by enlisting the help of World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder.
The report added that Kerry and Rice had fulsomely praised 'Abbas's policies and how he handled matters, and harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he "aims to destroy the two-state solution."
It should be mentioned that both Kerry and Erekat have denied that there was any U.S.-Palestinian coordination in drafting the Security Council resolution.
Following are excerpts from the Al-Youm Al-Sabi' report:
Coordinating Kerry's Attendance At International Conference In France
The delegation also attempted to coordinate Kerry's attendance at the Paris Conference, which will take place January 15, 2017, to promote a further international move for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the report. "As for the French initiative, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he could not attend [the conference if it were to be held] December 21-22, but stressed that he could [attend it if it were to be held] after January 9. The Palestinian delegation stressed that 'Abbas had contacted the French side, and that it had expressed its willingness to postpone the international conference [in Paris] so that the American secretary of state could attend."
Erekat: If U.S. Embassy Is Moved To Jerusalem, We Will Call To Expel U.S. Embassies From Arab And Muslim Countries
"When Susan Rice asked what the Palestinian response would be if the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, or if a new settlement bloc was annexed, Erekat responded:
'We will directly and immediately join 16 international organizations, withdraw the PLO's recognition of Israel, and cut back our security, political, and economic ties with the Israeli occupation regime, and we will hold it fully responsible for the PA's collapse. Furthermore, we will [call] on the Arab and Islamic peoples to expel U.S. Embassies from their capitals.'
Rice answered Erekat by saying: 'It seems that future matters could be very complicated, and we are all apprehensive about sitting down with Erekat because of his absolute knowledge of these matters, and because of his memory and his sincerity.' She expressed the American side's respect and friendship for Erekat, and apologized for yelling at him in March 2014."
"John Kerry And Susan Rice Asked That The Meetings Be Classified 'Top Secret'"
Finally, the report stated: "John Kerry and Susan Rice asked that the meetings be classified 'Top Secret' and that what went on in them not be leaked, in light of the sensitivity of the transition between the two U.S. administrations."
"The Palestinian delegation," it said, "asked Kerry and Rice to reexamine the financial aid to the PA and not to reduce it, as they did when they cut it from $150 million in 2011 to $100 million in 2012, with the current aid proposal being only $39 million.
According to the meeting's minutes, the Palestinian side revealed that [U.S.] financial aid to the PA was $400-$500 million between 2008 and 2013, and was cut to $370 million in 2014 and 2015, and then cut again to $290 million in 2016.
"The Palestinian side praised the American administration's aid to UNRWA, which averaged $277 million per year between 2009 and 2016, and asked for it to be increased in order to cover UNRWA's $101 million deficit in 2016." Read the full story here.