US Secretary of State John Kerry started on Wednesday a new round of visit in the region, including Israel and the Palestinian territories, in a bid to push forward the stalled peace talks between those two sides, said a senior Palestinian official.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio that the Palestinians hope Kerry will come to help rescue the talks and block the ongoing deterioration due to Israel 's intensive increase of settlement building in the Palestinian territories.
During his three-day visit in the area, Kerry will first hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Wednesday and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday in Ramallah to discuss the developments in the direct peace talks between the two sides.
It has been four months since Kerry held US-sponsored direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. However, the talks have not made any progress following 22 rounds of meetings due to Israel's decision to build up 6,000 units, which outraged the Palestinian side.
In protest to the non-stopped settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the Palestinian negotiations team, headed by Erekat, presented its resignation from the talks to President Mahmoud Abbas who, however, did not accept it and preferred to keep the talks going on until Kerry's visit to the area.
"The current talks are really going through real and serious obstacles," Erekat told the Radio, adding that "Israel is fully responsible for that because its government is insisting on the settlement policy and the unilateral actions as well as rejecting the international references for peace."
Meanwhile, Erekat denied earlier Israeli media report that the US administration is preparing a plan for security arrangements in the region in the frame of a permanent peace agreement that ends the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I rule out that Kerry would preview any plans related to the ongoing stalled negotiations," said Erekat, who denied the Israeli Haaretz Daily report which said the United States has prepared a plan of security arrangements that might be implemented in the West Bank in case of a permanent peace deal is reached.
The daily reported that a US retired general called John Allan was assigned as a special aide to the US Secretary of Defense and US Secretary of State, adding that during his meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry will debate the future security plan with him.
Meanwhile, on the eve of Kerry's visit to the region, the European Union (EU) envoy to the Middle East peace process had announced in Brussels on Tuesday that the EU is studying the stopping of the financial aid given to the Palestinians by next year.
The EU official's warning was made in case the Israeli- Palestinian peace talks fail, according to Israeli mass media, which also reported that EU officials believe that the aim of aiding the Palestinians was to help them establishing the independent Palestinian state and not to manifest the current situation.
Erekat denied the Palestinians have received any hints of notifications from the EU on this subject, adding that "the Europe is practically committed to the peace process and to the two-state solution and it is responsible for the political and geographical stability in the region."
The EU spends annually 500,000 Euros (about 680,000 US dollars) in paying salaries to Palestinian servants and financing infrastructure projects.
Two weeks ago, Kerry was scheduled to visit the two regions, but it was postponed due to developments in the Mideast, namely the signing of the agreement in Geneva between six world countries and Iran on the Iranian Nuclear program.
Kerry will also debate with both Abbas and Netanyahu about the consequences of the agreement in the region and on the peace process.
Erekat said the Palestinians are looking forward to using Geneva agreement as a sample, making a similar agreement on ending the Israeli-Arab conflict and resolving the Palestinian cause.