The PLO leadership on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Israel and threatened to go to international agencies to punish it for its “war crimes, anti-human, racist acts and violations of international laws.”
The attack came during a meeting in Ramallah of the PLO Executive Committee under the chairmanship of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PLO leaders said they would not accept a situation where the peace talks with Israel, which resumed recently, would become a “political cover for the implementation of the largest settlement project.”
They accused the government of working toward undermining “all prospects for peace.”
Referring to recent Israeli plans to build housing units in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods, the PLO leaders said: “The PLO Executive Committee considers the unprecedented settler decisions which were announced by the occupation government as conclusive proof that Israel’s first and last option remains expansionism, Judaization and theft of Palestinian land, and not ending occupation and implementing the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.”
The committee warned that Israel’s actions would prompt the PA leadership to reassess its position toward the peace talks.
The PLO leaders criticized the US administration for failing to exert pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction.
“We hold the US administration responsible for stopping these Israeli war crimes and attempts to foil the peace process,” the leaders said in a statement. “The last settlement steps contradict assurances that the Palestinian Authority received during preparatory talks for launching the negotiations.”
The PLO accused Israel of employing a policy of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians in Jerusalem.
“Israel’s practices will prompt the Palestinian leadership to demand the intervention of international courts and institutions against these war crimes, racist acts and violations of all international laws and conventions,” the statement cautioned.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo said after the meeting that Abbas had briefed participants on the latest developments surrounding the peace talks with Israel. He said that there can be no “combination between the negotiations and continued Israeli violations, especially settlement construction and the Judaization of Jerusalem.”
The PLO was seriously considering going to United Nations agencies to “discuss this dangerous issue,” Abed Rabbo said.
The Palestinians, he added, are hoping that the US would play a larger role in the peace talks between the PA and Israel.
Israeli officials responded to the statement by saying that any move against Israel by the Palestinians in the UN or any other international body would be a breach of agreements reached before the restart of the current round of negotiations.
“The understanding reached before the commencement of the current talks did not include a settlement freeze, and the Palestinians know that full well,” the official said. “But they did include a Palestinian commitment to abstain from going to international institutions, and if they follow through on this threat, that would be a violation of understandings reached.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged last week in Brazil that there was no Israeli commitment to a settlement freeze, and that Israel’s announcement of plans to build in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs took neither the US nor the Palestinians by surprise.
“The Palestinians know that Israel refused to accept their demand that a settlement freeze be a precondition for peace talks, they know that better than anyone else,” the official added. “The construction the government has authorized is all in Jerusalem and the large blocs, and in no way changes the final map of peace.”
The official took sharp issue with the Palestinian use of the term “Judaization of Jerusalem.”
“This term is offensive, based on a historical un-truth, and shows a Palestinian unwillingness to acknowledge Jewish rights in this land and in the city of Jerusalem,” he said. “This unwillingness is very troubling and does not send a good signal concerning these peace talks.”