Erekat: Israel is trying to sabotage the peace process

Prosor: PLO negotiators resignation is pretext to exit talks.

November 14, 2013 22:43
2 minute read.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat [file].

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)


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Chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, who resigned earlier this month over continued Israeli settlement construction, accused Israel on Thursday of trying to sabotage the peace process.

"The only thing that is ongoing [at the moment] is the destruction, undermining and torpedoing of the two state solution by the settlement activities," he told Channel 2's Oded Ben-Ami, noting angrily that by continuing settlement construction, Israel is dictating conditions to the talks.

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"The real negotiation is taking place between Prime Minister [Binyamin Netanyahu], [Housing and Construction Minister Uri] Ariel, [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya'alon and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman," he accused.

"I thought I was there to produce a two-state solution in the 1967 borders, but all that happened in the 100 days of negotiations is there were more than 6,000 housing units announced - before the recent 20,000 - more than 19 Palestinians were killed, more than a 129 homes were demolished and settler violence increased by 49% in the West Bank," he said.

"Imagine that I declare today that I want to build 24,000 housing units in Israel for Arabs and then I will speak to you about a two-state solution. Do you believe this?"

Erekat also revealed some of the concessions the Palestinians have agreed to as a part of ongoing peace talks.

"We have accepted minor [land] swaps in size and value, we have accepted limitations on the nature of Palestine in the future - strong police force, no army, no navy, no air force - we have accepted all the criteria that would lead to a two-state solution," he said.

Despite that, Erekat accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of failing to declare support for a two-state solution in the 1967 borders.

He also accused the Israeli government of lying by saying that the Palestinians have agreed for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners in return for continued settlement construction.

"I'm the one who made the deal with [US Secretary of State John] Kerry. We committed not to seek upgrading the state of Palestine's status at the UN for nine months in exchange for the 104 prisoners, and then we see Israeli officials saying the Palestinians traded the prisoners for settlements. I cannot tolerate such lies."

Erekat, who submitted his resignation along with Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on November 5, said the resignation of the Palestinian negotiating team does not undermine Abbas's commitment to continue the peace process for the allotted nine months.

Prosor: Palestinians 'playing games' in peace talks

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the resignation of Palestinian negotiators this week from peace talks with Israel is a "pretext to exit the talks."

Prosor called the move a strategic tactic— either to genuinely sabotage the talks, or to cajole more concessions from the Israeli government.

"Playing games is a no-no," Prosor said, especially in light of the murder of an Israeli soldier at the hands of a 16-year-old Palestinian in Afula.

He said the resignation obviously "wasn't a good sign," coming halfway through a nine-month commitment to talks by Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas.

Prosor was in Washington addressing dozens of US congressmen on Capitol Hill, attending the 2013 conference of the Israel Allies Foundation.

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