Mahmoud Abbas what 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
While the US was "mindful" of Palestinian demands for a construction
freeze in the West Bank, State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said
Monday the issue would be discussed on September 2 in Washington, ruling
it out as a precondition for direct talks.
"The issue of settlements, the issue of the moratorium... has been a
topic of discussion and will be a topic of discussion when the leaders
meet with Secretary Clinton on September 2," Crowley said.
Obama stays close to home
cancels unity meeting with Fatah'
factions slam PA leadership'
For a second straight day, Palestinian leaders have threatened to walk away from
upcoming talks if Israel does not extend the settlement construction moratorium
on September 26. This has led a government official on Monday to question if the
Palestinians “were not looking for excuses to pull out of the talks even before
A little more than a week before Israel and the Palestinian
Authority are scheduled to relaunch direct talks in Washington, chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that “if Israel resumes settlement
activities in the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, we cannot
He was speaking at a press conference in
Ramallah, and quoting from a letter PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent to US
President Barack Obama.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must choose
“between settlements and peace,” Erekat said. “We hope that Mr. Netanyahu will
choose reconciliation and not further confrontation. If Mr.
decides to produce new settlement tenders come September 26, he will have
decided to stop the negotiations.”
Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said
in response to Erekat that the issue of the settlements “is one of the issues on
the agenda of the talks, and has to be discussed. The fate of the settlements
will be determined in a peace agreement, and that is the correct way to approach
Following Erekat’s statement, the Prime Minister’s Office
issued a statement saying that “Israel does not place any precondition to
starting the direct talks.”
The statement also said that Netanyahu has
stressed the importance of security arrangements and disarmament as part of a
future agreement, to prevent terrorism and the firing of rockets from
territories in Palestinian hands.
Vice Premier and Regional Affairs
Minister Silvan Shalom issued a statement after meeting Quartet envoy Tony
Blair, saying he told Blair that preconditions do not foster dialogue, and that
the Palestinians did not make pre-conditions before sitting with Israel at Wye
Plantation, Camp David or even Annapolis.
“We are happy with the start of
direct negotiations, and Israel is prepared for, and sees importance in, direct
talks. But understand that placing preconditions, before the sides even sit
around the negotiating table, will bring about failure,” Shalom told
He said that the Palestinians needed to recognize the importance
of the talks, where “both sides will present their demands.”
said that Israel would not agree to Palestinian requests that Israel sell Gaza
more electricity to reduce shortages there, saying this would only strengthen
Calling on the international community to place pressure on Hamas
to recognize Israel, forswear terrorism, and accept previous agreements, Shalom
said that he held Hamas responsible for the conditions inside
“Israel can’t allow itself to cooperate with a terrorist
organization that wants to destroy it,” he said.
Netanyahu and his wife
Sara went Monday on a two-day vacation to the Galilee.
The couple took
the vacation without their two children, one of whom is currently in the IDF.
The Netanyahus – according to a statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office
– toured historical sites in the North.