A flurry of contradicting statements and leaks from Palestinian officials on the ongoing talks with Israel has underlined the difficulties involved in making any progress in the negotiations, now in their second month.
One unnamed Palestinian source told the Associated Press that the Israeli team had offered their Palestinian counterparts a state within temporary borders before addressing any permanent solution, and that the Palestinians had rejected this proposal.
According to the official, the state being proposed by Israel included around 60 per cent of the West Bank, from which dozens of settlements and army bases would be removed. But another anonymous source told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that Israel had so far refused to discuss borders and had insisted on only security issues.
Whatever the veracity of these leaks, they run counter to the commitment of both sides not to discuss the content of the talks with the media.
Anonymous sources were not the only ones to speak out, however. In recent days, Nabil Shaath and Yasser Abed Rabbo, senior Fatah leaders, accused Israel’s representatives of dragging their feet in the negotiations and not addressing the core issues. Even President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at an open meeting last weekend demanding that Israel adheres to the proposals offered four years ago by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Mr Abbas was in London this week on an official state visit, during which he met Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband.
Mr Abbas also met Secretary of State John Kerry in London on Sunday to discuss how best to proceed with the talks.
The Israeli side has imposed a blackout on the contents of the six rounds of talks that have taken place so far in Jerusalem and Jericho between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni; Mr Netanyahu’s representative, Yitzhak Molcho; and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Following last week’s leaks and statements, Mr Molcho officially complained to the US envoy to the talks, Martin Indyk, accusing the Palestinians of breaching the agreement not to elaborate on the talks in public.
An Israeli official who briefed the media on the complaint said that the Palestinian leaks “distorted” what has so far taken place in the talks but would not deny that no progress has been achieved.