The Palestinian Authority has no intention to succumb to US and Israeli pressure and won't resume peace talks while construction in West Bank settlements continues, Nabil Sha'ath, member of the Fatah Central Council who is closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.
"Israel's threats to invade the Gaza Strip and American pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to miss what they believe is an opportunity, won't drive us to resume the peace talks while settlement construction continues in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem," Sha'ath, a former PA Foreign Minister and one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, said.
"We believe that any return to the negotiations would be a waste of
time and would provide a cover for Israeli settlements," Sha'ath said,
adding that the US Administration, through its envoy to the Middle
East, George Mitchell, was exerting heavy pressure on the PA leadership
to agree to the resumption of the peace talks with Israel
"They want us to return to the negotiating table without a halt of
settlement construction and the Judaization of Jerusalem and the
removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip," he said. "And they are
constantly threatening us that we would be missing a second
The Fatah official revealed that the US Administration has threatened
to veto any resolution on a unilateral declaration of independence that
the Palestinians seek at the UN Security Council.
He said that in addition to the US pressure, Israel was also stepping
up its measures against the Palestinians by creating new facts on the
ground and arresting and deporting international activists who come to
the West Bank to protest against the security fence and settlements.
Sha'ath also strongly criticized President Shimon Peres for reportedly
warning Abbas not to miss another opportunity and to return to the
negotiating table unconditionally. He said that Peres's "threats" did
not scare the Palestinians.
"Peres is part of the Israeli leadership that has destroyed the peace
process," he charged. "Peres served in the governments of Yitzhak
Shamir and Ehud Olmert and is now president under the government of
Binyamin Netanyahu. These threats don't scare our people and President
Abbas will remain steadfast in the face of the growing pressure."
Sha'ath's remarks came as Abbas aides said that the PA leader was
planning to hold consultations with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
about ideas presented by the US Administration to Israel and the
Palestinians in order to resume the peace talks.
Nimer Hammad, a senior advisor to Abbas, said that the PA leadership
told Mitchell that it would agree to the resumption of the peace talks
if Israel stopped settlement construction even for a limited period and
accepted the demand to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.
Hammad told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that Mitchell made it
clear during the talks with Abbas in the past few days that the US
views Israel's measures in the settlements and Jerusalem as "illegal."
Hammad said that the US emissary talked about the possibility that
Israel would take a number of "confidence-building" measures to
encourage the Palestinians to return to the talks.
The measures include the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli
jails, placing more lands in the West Bank under the exclusive control
of the PA and removing checkpoints, Hammad said. He added that while
the PA welcomed the new ideas, it rejected the intention to turn them
into a condition for resuming the talks with Israel.
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