Palestinian mission led by top negotiator Saeb Erekat set to meet with John Kerry, members of Trump team

December 10, 2016

A high-level delegation from the Palestinian Authority will visit the United States this week for a series of meeting expected to focus on the long-stalled peace process with Israel.

The delegation will be led by top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and include Majed Faraj, director of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, the Ynet news website reported Saturday.

The delegation will meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State John Jerry. They are also expected to meet with officials close to President-elect Donald Trump, the report said.

The visit comes days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation by French President Francois Hollande to take part in a summit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on the sidelines of a conference on the peace process.

French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival on July 21, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)

Abbas and foreign ministers from nearly two dozen countries are expected to meet in Paris on December 21 to try to jump-start peace efforts.

Netanyahu said he would be willing to meet with Abbas under other circumstances. Israel has rejected the conference, saying that it does not believe an international gathering is the way to achieve peace, rather direct negotiations with the Palestinians was the only way forward.

The French have been pushing an initiative aimed at revitalizing the moribund peace process between Palestinian and Israelis. While the Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, Israel has remained critical.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Times Of Israel

The Palestinians will also be keen to asses the intentions of the incoming Trump administration, widely expected to be more pro-Israel.

Netanyahu told CBS’s 60 Minutes, in an interview set to be broadcast Sunday, that Trump feels “very warmly” about Israel and the Jewish people.

In an excerpt from the interview released early, the Israeli leader said: “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well…his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.”