In a move that could be a major change in the Israel-Palestine peace process, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman today told Israeli media that the Palestinians have dropped all preconditions, including the call for a settlement freeze, related to peace talks.
Friedman says that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants peace talks with Israel without any preconditions at all, as soon as possible. That’s a big shift, as the Palestinians have previously said talking while the settlements grow meant they are negotiating over an ever-shrinking amount of territory Israel hasn’t already taken, and that Israel has incentive to slow the process while they take more.
The move away from preconditions does, however, put the ball in Israel’s court, and puts the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has previously talked up unconditional peace talks, but whose far-right government largely opposes the peace deal as a general concept.
While President Trump interested in making an effort at a peace deal, Abbas has set himself up as willingly cooperating, while the political ramifications for Netanyahu will make it difficult for him to accept talks under any conditions, or even no conditions, without risking his coalition.