A delegation of senior West Bank Palestinian officials is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later today, to deliver a letter from Palestinian President Abbas, but doubts remain over whether the meeting will actually happen and who will lead the Palestinian group. The letter, according to leaked copies, reiterates Palestinian preconditions for returning to negotiations with Israel. It demands Israel cease settlement construction, accept 1967 lines as the basis for territorial negotiations, and release Palestinian prisoners.
However, there are questions over whether the meeting will take actually take place. No time or place has been publicised. It is reported that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was supposed to lead the Palestinian delegation, has expressed strong reservations about the initiative, and is reluctant to participate. The original intention of the Palestinian letter was apparently to declare the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, in protest at the lack of progress in the peace process. However, Abbas came under strong international pressure in recent weeks not to take that step. Now the letter obliquely threatens such a move if Israel does not meet Palestinian demands, stating that, “the Palestinian Authority—now stripped of all meaningful authority—cannot continue to honour agreements while Israel refuses to even acknowledge its commitments.”
Netanyahu is expected to take the opportunity in the meeting to reiterate his call for Abbas to enter direct negotiations on a two-state deal without preconditions. He will also plans to respond by sending his own letter with a delegation to President Abbas in Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority remains under heavy international pressure to resume negotiations with Israel, after breaking off a short-lived round of meetings in Amman at the end of January.