Palestinians doubt Kerry's effort can bring peace, have 'own plans'

2013-05-23T00:00:00Z Palestinians doubt Kerry's effort can bring peace, have 'own plans'The Associated Press The Associated Press
May 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinians believe the U.S. effort to restart peace talks is doomed, and they're preparing instead to resume their campaign of seeking membership in key international organizations as soon as next month, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives on another peace mission, Israel and the Palestinians appear to be as divided as ever over the issue of Israeli settlements. Without major U.S. pressure on Israel, Palestinians believe the outlook seems bleak.

Kerry's arrival Thursday is the latest in a series of meetings with Israelis and Palestinians over the past two months aimed at getting them back to the negotiating table.

While Palestinians praised Kerry's efforts, they said there has been little progress ahead of what they believe to be a June 7 deadline and said they are already beginning work on a "day-after" strategy.

"We don't have unrealistic expectations. We know the immensity of obstacles," said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official. "If it doesn't work, of course we have our own plans."

Peace talks broke down in late 2008 and remain stalled, largely due to disputes over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians claim both areas, as well as the Gaza Strip, for their future state, and say there is no point in negotiating while Israel continues to build Jewish settlements.

More than 500,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians demand that Israel freeze settlement construction and accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis of a future border.

Fed up with the impasse and disillusioned with Obama, the Palestinians last fall won recognition from the U.N. General Assembly as a nonmember state, an upgraded diplomatic status that gives them access to key U.N. bodies. The U.S. was one of just eight countries that sided with Israel in opposing the bid.

Israel fears the Palestinians will now seek membership in international agencies to promote an anti-Israel agenda. Its biggest concern is that the Palestinians will try to join the International Criminal Court and press war-crimes charges against Israel.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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