'US failed to convince Netanyahu to halt construction'

PA official: US consul-general briefed Abbas on PM's US talks, stating he refused to stop settlement building in exchange for renewed talks.

November 13, 2010 17:12
2 minute read.
Netanyahu Abbas

Netanyahu Abbas 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Israeli intransigence regarding the issue of settlement construction is the reason behind the current crisis in the peace process, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.

Abbas’s remarks came during a phone conversation with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and a meeting in Ramallah with US Consul-General Daniel Rubinstein.

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Abbas told the two that halting the construction was the only way to resume the stalled peace talks with Israel.

A PA official said that the US consul general briefed Abbas on the results of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talks in the US last week.

The official claimed that the Americans failed again in convincing Netanyahu to agree to a full cessation of settlement construction in return for the resumption of the peace talks.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat announced over the weekend that the Palestinians may ask the US to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines if the Americans fail to pressure Israel to stop the construction in one month.

“If the US can’t oblige Israel to stop the settlements during this month, we will ask the US to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem,” Erekat said.

He pointed out that 107 countries have recognized the Palestinian state and that the Palestinians have official embassies in dozens of countries. “Unfortunately, the US still hasn’t recognized us,” he said. “Also, there are 21 EU states that haven’t recognized us although we have representative offices there.”

Erekat said it was “unjust” to hold both Israel and the Palestinians responsible for the suspension of the peace talks. “The Israeli government is responsible for the collapse of the negotiations because of its practices and construction in the settlements, especially during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington,” he said. “Why aren’t they holding the Israeli government responsible as they promised to do when they said that they would hold the party responsible for the collapse of the talks responsible?”

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was quoted as saying that the proposed US guarantees to Israel in return for a freeze of settlement construction for two months were not less dangerous than the construction itself.

Fayyad said that the US guarantees were dangerous for the Palestinian cause. He also warned against any attempt to prevent the Palestinians from asking the United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state should the peace process fail. He added that in any case there was no need to declare the establishment of a Palestinian state because the Palestinians had already made such a declaration in Algeria in 1988.

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