Scoop: Israel rejects U.S. proposal for summit with Palestinian Authority
Israel last week rejected a proposal by the Biden administration to hold a high-level summit with the Palestinian Authority, three Israeli officials told Axios.
Why it matters: The Biden administration is trying to create a “political horizon” or diplomatic process between Israeli and Palestinian officials in an attempt to strengthen the PA.
The big picture: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed frustration and warned Israel and the Biden administration about the potential consequences if the stalemate in the peace process continues.
- At the same time, the Israeli government, which was formed by left-wing and right-wing parties on the principle of not taking any major initiatives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can’t move forward with political steps related to the issue.
Driving the news: During a meeting in Washington last week with Israel’s national security adviser Eyal Hulata, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman raised the possibility of holding a five-way summit between Israel, the PA, the U.S., Egypt and Jordan, Israeli officials said.
- According to the Israeli officials, Sherman proposed the summit of foreign ministers could take place in Washington or in the region.
- Hulata said the Israeli government thinks the conditions on both sides are not ripe for such an initiative and stressed Israel isn't interested in a photo-op that ends with nothing and results in an "expectation crisis."
- “We don’t like this idea. Past experience taught us that such an expectation crisis could lead to an escalation on the ground," a senior Israeli official told me.
- A State Department spokesperson said, "We have nothing to announce."
Behind the scenes: The idea of holding a high-level meeting between Israel and Palestinian officials under the auspices of the Biden administration, Egypt and Jordan had been floated by the White House as early as December of last year.
- For months, Israeli officials didn't give a clear answer about the idea, hoping that it would just die down, the Israeli officials said.
- But when the issue was raised again by Sherman last week, the Israeli government decided to state its position against it more clearly, the officials added.
- An Israeli official said the government doesn’t understand why the Biden administration continues to push for this idea since the chances of a summit happening are extremely low.