US Secretary of State John Kerry came away empty-handed from his latest meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Amman on Sunday, February 21,- which shouldn’t have surprised him as it was par for the course. DEBKAfile’s Middle Eastern sources report that Kerry was finally persuaded that Abbas would not give Israel an inch on any political or security-related matters. The Palestinian leader has never swerved from his conviction that it was the duty of the international community to force Israel to present the Palestinians with a state of their own – without direct negotiations.
To this end, Kerry found Abu Mazen clinging to the initiative put forward by French President Francois Hollande, for an international conference that will establish a Palestinian state, while letting the Palestinians off the hook of talks with Israel.
France in fact warned Israel that without progress towards a two-state solution of the conflict, Paris would go ahead and recognize a Palestinian state on its own.
The Palestinian leader is determined to campaign on behalf of the French initiative in the coming month, undeterred by the US Secretary’s repeated warning that Washington will not go along with it, even if France puts it before the UN Security Council.
But Kerry was most of all taken aback to find himself rebuffed by Abu Mazen when he asked him to make a speech or issue some statement calling on the Palestinians to halt their terrorist attacks against Israel now entering their fifth consecutive month. All his efforts to persuade the Palestinian leader to tamp down the violence were in vain.
A senior member of Kerry’s entourage told DEBKAfile’s sources: “Abbas obviously thinks that terrorism in its present form serves his policy, although he won’t admit as much in public.” The source described the US Secretary’s mood after this encounter as “disappointed and shocked.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources note that Abbas is treading a very fine line. While he finds a measure of violence useful for letting the Palestinians vent their resentments, he nonetheless instructs his security services to partially cooperate with Israel so that Palestinian violence does not get out of hand and make him their next target.