Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was scheduled to deliver the letter with demands for a resumption of peace talks to Netanyahu, which would have been the highest level of interaction between the parties in almost two years. Instead, Fayyad did not go but Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and head of Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Majad Faraj met with the Israeli prime minister.
The meeting lasted less than an hour and afterwards the sides released a statement saying, “Within two weeks, a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be given to President Abbas. Both sides hope that this exchange of letters will help find a way to advance peace." The Washington Post explained the generic statement “signaled little progress was made.”
Dan Ephron, writer for The Daily Beast claims he received a copy of the letter, which included the usual Palestinian demands for a halt to settlement activity and the acceptance of the 1967 borders. One segment concerning the Palestinian efforts in the UN caught his attention however. Abbas reportedly wrote, “Should the Government of Israel refuse to honor these above-referenced obligations, we will seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory.” Ephron said sources told him that this means the Palestinians are considering another UN membership bid and possibly a petition to the International Court of Justice.
The Palestinian and Israeli press largely ignored the letter delivery in their news coverage. Those who did mention it focused on the absence of Fayyad, who pulled out hours before the meeting. There are a few theories trying to explain his decision. The Washington Post reports Fayyad had reservations about the letter and did not want to be seen in a meeting that was unpopular with the Palestinian public. Senior Palestinian officials told Ma’an News that Fayyad was “reluctant to engage with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike in protest against their conditions in Israeli jails.”
When the Israeli government comes up with a response within the next two weeks, Netanyahu plans to send his top negotiator Yitzhak Molcho to Ramallah to meet with Abbas. People close to Netanyahu tell Ha’aretz that he is interested in meeting as soon as possible with the Palestinian president.
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