A highly anticipated meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Salam Fayyad resulted in disappointment today, as the Palestinian PM failed to show.
The sit down, which was in the works for weeks, would have been the highest ranking face-to-face between the two entangled sides since peace talks broke down in 2010.
Instead, Bibi was met with a Palestinian negotiator and intelligence chief, who stepped up in Fayyad’s stead for the “brief” meeting. The pair delivered a letter from Mahmoud Abbas, in which the Palestinian President outlined his perceived grievances with the Jewish state’s lack of commitment to the peace process.
The content of the letter has been under speculation since its existence was uncovered late last week. The note was said to contain a list of preconditions, a tactic Netanyahu has long criticized, that the Arab side would need met before agreeing to continue negotiations.
The letter is now reported to accuse the Israeli administration of undermining the Palestinian Authority’s ability to govern its people. The writing also contains a demand that Israel agree to a halt of settlement growth on lands captured in 1967, as well as dictates on releasing all PA prisoners and revoking government policies it says goes against bilateral agreements.
The AFP, which obtained a copy of the letter, said the missive states: "As a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, territorial and security spheres. In other words, the PA lost its raison d'etre which, if it continues, will make it unable to honor its commitments.”
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the PM will respond in a letter of his own within two weeks.
Fayyad’s withdrawal has already been analyzed by the media, who surmise the move could mean unrest within Palestine’s government. Growing tensions between parties, particularly Fatah and Hamas, have left the Arab side without a clear-cut plan for achieving peace. Many moderate Palestinians have become vocal in support of a two-state solution, mirroring a growing opinion in Israel. However, sources close to the situation warn that the time for such a plan, and the one-on-one negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas that are needed to secure that goal, is growing nearer to a close.
The PM’s absence was also, sources say, inspired by a hunger strike led today by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Fayyad was reportedly “uncomfortable” meeting with Netanyahu while the demonstration was taking place.