Senate letter, prior to Kerry announcement of talks, asks Abbas to negotiate with Israel without preconditions

UPDATE: Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the PA and Israel have established a basis to restart peace talks.

The U.S. Senate seal. Credit: U.S. Senate.

( A letter that was circulating in the U.S. Senate, prior to Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement on Friday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel have established a basis for restarting peace talks, urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas “to enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions on final status issues whereby Israelis and Palestinians live side by side in peace and security.” U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) spearheaded the letter. 

“You have a unique opportunity to make substantial progress toward establishing real peace in the region and leave a lasting legacy for the Palestinian people,” the senatorial letter to Abbas stated, according to a copy obtained by “As you know, the United States has renewed its commitment to the peace process. We support Secretary Kerry’s strong efforts to engage with you and the Israelis to move towards an agreement. President Obama has appointed General John Allen as a Special Envoy to focus on security issues related to the negotiations. These initiatives have bipartisan support in the United States Senate, but only insofar as they produce the imminent start of negotiations and provide security for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The letter asked Abbas to “commit to a constructive approach and discontinue any efforts to work through international institutions to achieve a Palestinian state.” The PA had made a unilateral move last fall to obtain non-member observer state status at the United Nations, but Friday's announcement by Kerry means direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will take place for the first time since 2010.

Posted on July 19, 2013 .