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Economic prospects for Palestinians in the West Bank are limited by Israeli restrictions on trade, and the Palestinian government is deeply dependent on foreign aid and bank credit to pay its bills. Help from abroad has plunged in recent years.
DUSTING OFF 2002 ARAB LEAGUE PEACE INITIATIVE
Kerry provided no details, however, on precisely how he hoped to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which collapsed in late 2010 amid a disagreement over Israeli settlement construction on land it seized during a 1967 war.
The Palestinians want the land to establish their own state.
“There is a quiet strategy, which I intend to keep quiet … in order to have the best chance of trying to get something moving,” Kerry said.
Hammad, the Palestinian official, said Israel wanted to modify the Saudi-inspired Arab League Initiative so that it took “the form of a regional cooperation or security” accord.
“Clearly, this is something that is not acceptable from the Palestinian side,” he said.
Israel is wary of the Arab plan partly because it would entail handing back the Syrian Golan Heights, as well as re-dividing Jerusalem, of which Israel annexed the captured Arab eastern part after the 1967 Middle East War.
Most Israeli politicians also oppose the return of Palestinian refugees to what is now the Jewish state and want to hold on to major settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.
A senior State Department official denied that Kerry himself had suggested modifying the Arab initiative.
“Secretary Kerry is not proposing changes to the Arab peace initiative. He welcomes efforts to enhance the constructive role the Arab peace initiative can play moving forward,” the official said, declining to be named.