(photo credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)
The Palestinian Authority will return to the negotiating table with Israel only if it stops building in the settlements and accepts the June 4, 1967, lines as the basis for a two-state solution, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday.
In response to Israel’s acceptance of the most recent Quartet proposal for resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Abu Rudaineh said: “If Israel is serious, it must abide, without reservations, by international legitimacy as mentioned in the road map, UN resolutions and the Arab peace initiative.”
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Although the PA last week said that the proposal contained “encouraging elements,” a top PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post
that the plan was biased in favor of Israel. The official said that the timing of the publication of the proposal was “suspicious” because it coincided with Abbas’s request for membership in the UN.
“The Quartet has lost its credibility, mainly because of its failure to force Israel to stop building in the settlements,” the official told the Post
The official also condemned Quartet envoy Tony Blair as a “servant of the Israeli government” and hinted that the former British prime minister was “no longer welcome in Ramallah.
We prefer not to see him here again.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also announced that the PA would not return to the peace talks without the two preconditions – cessation of settlement construction and acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.
Erekat told reporters in Cairo after meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elarabi that when the PA talks about a settlement freeze, it is also referring to natural growth in these communities and the construction of new housing projects in east Jerusalem.
Erekat said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Quartet proposal has been “1,100 No’s” by approving tenders for building 1,000 housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood last week.
Noting that the Quartet proposal talks about freezing settlement construction [as part of the road map], Erekat criticized the Americans and Europeans for “only condemning” Israel’s actions.
The PA supports the Quartet’s call for resuming the peace talks with Israel, he added. “But it’s Netanyahu who derailed the peace process,” he charged.
Erekat said that the PA was continuing to work with the Arab League members to win backing for its application for membership in the UN. He denied that some Arab countries have been exerting pressure on the PA to withdraw its application.
“Palestinian right to selfdetermination is not open for bargaining or extortion,” he continued in a reference to reports that Congress has decided to block financial aid to the Palestinians because of the statehood bid.
“We appreciate the US aid, but we won’t allow anyone to extort us or bargain with us about the right to selfdetermination, Jerusalem and our Arab and Islamic identity,” Erekat stressed. “This is unacceptable.”
According to Erekat, the PA was continuing to hold daily talks with the US administration despite differences between the two sides over the statehood bid.