A scheduled high-profile meeting between Palestinian and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz on Sunday in a bid to restart direct contacts between Israel and the Palestinians has been postponed indefinitely, an official said Saturday.
The official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that both factional and public pressures were the main obstacles to the meeting. All the Palestinian factions sent direct messages to the President Mahmoud Abbas offices, demanding that Abbas must reject meeting Mofaz.
The official applauded Abbas “for showing respect to the people’s position,” which he said was their right.
"The whole world should consider the huge pressure internally and externally President Abu Mazen (Abbas) faces in light of Israel’s stubbornness and the ongoing settlement activities, detentions, and house demolitions," the official said.
Palestinians reacted overwhelmingly negatively Thursday and Friday after news of the expected meeting between Abbas and the Israeli vice premier, taking to Facebook to denounce the visit.
“Mofaz is (late Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat’s killer and he should be put on trial” and “detain the child killer” were among the comments on Facebook.
A group of activists announced on Facebook that they had filed a lawsuit and would present it to the Palestinian judiciary to demand the detention of Mofaz as a war criminal upon his arrival.
Speaking to Voice ofradio on Thursday, Erekat said the meeting was arranged at Mofaz's request, but negotiations were the responsibility of Israel's prime minister and negotiating teams.
"We do not want to raise expectations or lower them. This is not a negotiation meeting," Erekat said.
A spokesman for Mofaz would not confirm or deny that a meeting had been arranged, but he did say there was ongoing contact with Abbas' office toward setting up such an event.
Mofaz told reporters this month that he intended to meet Abbas "to examine ways to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
Palestinian-Israeli talks broke down in 2010 over Israel’s refusal to halt construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occoupied West Bank.
The PLO has demanded a halt to the construction of settlements built on land Israel captured in a 1967 war, before talks resume, but Israel says the settlements issue should be resolved in negotiations.