Erekat: Netanyahu never gave Mitchell a chance

After PM blames Palestinians for US envoy quitting, PA negotiator says: "Statements would be amusing if the consequences weren't so tragic."

May 19, 2011 13:17
1 minute read.
Saeb Erekat

erekat raise the roof REUTERS 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Responding to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks blaming the Palestinians for US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell's resignation, former Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in turn blamed Netanyahu, saying that he "never gave Ambassador Mitchell a chance," Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Thursday.

Following the announcement of Mitchell's resignation by the White House on Saturday, Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority's insistence on setting preconditions for torpedoing peace talks.

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Directly responding to the allegation, Erekat bemoaned, "Netanyahu's statements would be amusing if the consequences of his actions weren't so tragic," Ma'an reported.

Israel, Erekat charged, "would announce a new settlement project as Ambassador Mitchell's plane would be landing in Tel Aviv," adding, "He was completely undermined."

"The record is clear," the former chief PA negotiator said, "During the Proximity Talks in the summer of 2010, we gave Ambassador Mitchell detailed position papers on all the core issues, including Jerusalem, refugees, security, water, prisoners, and territory. We explicitly told Ambassador Mitchel that he was free to pass them along to Mr. Netanyahu."

He went on to issue a direct appeal to the prime minister, saying: "I challenge Mr. Netanyahu to claim that he responded to these papers or that he put forward any proposals of his own."

"We've been negotiating for years now and one thing is clear," Erekat explained, "A lack of a settlement freeze and clear terms of reference has only led to a de-legitimization of the peace process."

Palestinians, he said, "cannot afford to go down this path any longer."

Speaking on the eve of the prime minister's trip to Washington, where he will meet with US President Barack Obama and speak to a joint session of the US Congress and AIPAC, Erekat concluded, "It is time for Mr. Netanyahu to understand that for a just and lasting peace to prevail we need decisions, not a PR campaign. The ball is in his court."

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