Erekat: No Israeli partner for peace; negotiations over

Chief Palestinian negotiator says peace talks are over in the sense that all solutions to ending the conflict have been determined.

By
May 16, 2011 21:18
3 minute read.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Saeb Erekat 311. (photo credit: Mati Milstein)

Negotiations between the PA and Jerusalem have ended because the Palestinians have no Israeli partner for peace, former chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said during a panel discussion by the Geneva Initiative on Monday.

Launched in 2003, the initiative proposes a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution and the division of Jerusalem. It also calls for final borders largely based on the 1967 lines and a compromise on the Palestinian right of return.

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“Do we have a partner to make peace in Israel? We don’t,” Erekat said. “I believe negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are over.”

Erekat also directed criticism at Israeli voters for halting negotiations.“You sacked the only guy who could achieve peace,” he said, referring to Ehud Olmert, prime minister from 2006 to 2009.

Erekat said all of the solutions to ending the conflict have already been determined and it merely takes “someone to stand up and make a decision.”

In regards to the declaration of a Palestinian state, Erekat said, “Those who stand tall and recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 lines are those who are advocating the two-state solution. Those who shy from it are putting a big question mark on the twostate solution.”

The panel discussion, titled, “The Road to September,” was held to discuss the expected ramifications of the UN vote on Palestinian statehood in September.

Bernard Kouchner, former French foreign minister, and former Meretz party leader Yossi Beilin, one of the founders of the Geneva Initiative, spoke alongside Erekat on the panel.

Kouchner told the crowd that a Palestinian state “is not an obstacle to security for Israel, rather a condition” of such security, and said that Israelis’ “permanent, rational and irrational” fear should not be a “permanent obstacle to peace.”

Kouchner issued a blanket rebuke of Israeli fears of the popular revolutions that have swept the Middle East in the past months, arguing that they were movements based on the democratic values cherished in the West.

Speaking of the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere during the “Arab Spring,” Kouchner said, “They weren’t attacking Israel or US policies, the people who were in the streets of Tunis. They were screaming for democracy and the values of Europe; democracy, rule of law, the rights of women. Are they enemies? They are not.”

Kouchner, who also said the new Fatah-Hamas unity deal should not pose a threat to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, told the crowd, “You have to take this Arabian spring as an opportunity to go forward to an Israeli spring.”

Of the myriad security and diplomatic dangers facing Israel, Kouchner said that diplomatic isolation is the most dire of all.

“You can’t remain isolated. This is the most dangerous thing: if you are not moving or not forcing your government to move,” Kouchner said.

For his part, Beilin said Israel cannot expect the Palestinians to stand by and accept the status quo. “It is impossible to expect the Palestinians will wait forever. How long can they wait? Ten years? Twelve years? One hundred?”

Beilin said the current Palestinian leadership can be expected to take diplomatic matters into its own hands in the absence of Israeli movement.


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