Abbas looking unhappy 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The Palestinian negotiating team with Israel has resigned in protest over
continued construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods,
Palestinian sources confirmed Wednesday.
The sources told the Palestinian
daily Al-Quds that PA President Mahmoud Abbas cut short his visit to Saudi
Arabia and returned to Ramallah to discuss with PLO and Fatah leaders the latest
developments surrounding the talks with Israel.
negotiating team consists of Saeb Erekat and Muhammad
Shtayyeh’s office confirmed that the two negotiators had
tendered their resignations to Abbas 10 days ago.
“We still haven’t
received a reply [from Abbas] to our request to quit,” the office
In an interview with the Egyptian TV station CBC, Abbas confirmed
that the members of the negotiating team had resigned. However, he did not say
whether he would accept or reject the resignations.
“We can’t say that
there has been any progress [in the talks],” Abbas said. “We will wait for nine
months and afterwards we are free to do what we want.”
Wednesday that Israel was “declaring the end of the peace process” unless it
backtracked on plans to pursue settlement construction.
Erekat said that
he has informed the US, Russia, the UN and the Arab League that the latest
Israeli plans would mean that Israel has officially ended the negotiations and
the peace process.
Israeli officials did not seem particularly fazed by
One official said it was clear that the Palestinians
were engaging in negotiation “brinkmanship,” and that over the years this
pattern has repeated itself on numerous occasions.
The officials said
that often when there is a crisis – either real or artificial – the Palestinian
negotiators will resign, or threaten to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, or
say they are abandoning the two-state solution.
“This is the way the
Palestinians negotiate, and we are familiar with it,” the official said.
“Unfortunately, this is the standard.”
The official said any crisis over
settlement construction at this time was an artificial crisis, even in light of
the Construction and Housing Ministry’s intent, rescinded at Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s intervention on Tuesday, to begin preparatory and
preliminary work toward issuing initial tenders for the building of some 24,000
units beyond the Green Line
“Nothing happened on Tuesday,” the official
said, “It was all smoke and mirrors. The prime minister disassociated himself
from it, and the government made no decisions. This crisis really is
Nevertheless, the PA again on Wednesday called on the US and
other members of the Quartet – the UN, Russia and the EU – to exert pressure on
Israel to stop building in the settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods in
order to save the peace talks.
In response to reports that the government
has approved plans to build housing units in these areas, the PA Foreign
Ministry accused Israel of continuing to “steal land, Judaize Jerusalem and
The PA ministry warned that “targeting of the
Aksa Mosque and house demolitions would prompt the Palestinian leadership to go
to the UN and its institutions and organizations to request international
protection for the ‘State of Palestine’ and its lands and people.”