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Kerry Meets Abbas in Amman; No Palestinian Action before Prisoner Release


US Secretary of State John Kerry left President Obama’s entourage in Europe to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Wednesday in an effort to preserve the peace process he’s brokered since last July. With the 9-months of time allotted for the mission ending on April 30, Kerry is seeking the agreement of the parties to extend the deadline for a full year. Amid rife speculation that Israel might not release the final 26 out of 104 Palestinian prisoners it promised to set free in four groups, Abbas struck a firm posture with Kerry and refused to make any promises or even allow his chief negotiator to fly to Rome for talks with the Americans when Kerry rejoins the traveling administration until the fourth release is accomplished. Abbas is also waiting for a written draft of Secretary Kerry’s long-awaited “framework agreement,” which he said had not yet been forthcoming at the time of the Amman meeting. Abbas was bolstered by this week’s Arab League summit which armed him with the unanimous rejection of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand for recognition of the Jewish character of the state of Israel. Despite a spate of rumors, the American administration continues to deny it’s willing to give up Jonathan Pollard, a civilian naval analyst serving a life sentence for passing secrets to Israel in the early 1980s.