Palestinians threaten to bring issue of settlements to ‘available int’l forums’

Chief PLO negotiator says US secretary of state to return to the region this week, though it is unclear if new proposals are forthcoming.

July 14, 2013 18:19
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Saeb Erekat, April 2013.

Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority would like to see US Secretary of State John Kerry succeed in his efforts to revive peace talks with Israel, Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday.

Erekat said the PA was unaware of any new ideas or proposals that Kerry would bring with him during his upcoming visit to the region.

“We want these efforts to succeed so that we could reach a solution that would rid us of this unjust occupation,” Erekat said.

He said that Kerry has informed the PA leadership of his intention to return to the region, possibly during this week. Israeli officials, however, said that no date has yet been set for his sixth trip to the region since March. A planned trip at the end of last week was postponed when Kerry’s wife fell ill.

“Regardless of whatever initiatives he carries, the only thing that could make his efforts succeed is Israel’s commitment to halting settlement construction and releasing Palestinian prisoners,” Erekat told the Palestinian news agency Safa.

Erekat said that the PA leadership would study any new ideas presented by Kerry during his visit.

On the eve of Kerry’s trip, the PLO Executive Committee held a meeting in Ramallah on Saturday night and reiterated the Palestinians’ conditions for returning to the negotiating table.

The committee welcomed Kerry’s ongoing efforts, saying it would pursue its efforts to ensure the success of his mission.

“The Palestinian leadership believes that a cessation of all settlement activities is the main guarantee for launching a serious political process that would achieve its goal of ending occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state,” the PLO committee said in a statement.

“The Palestinian leadership will go to available international forums to resist settlements because the future of peace and the Palestinians’ right to selfdetermination is at stake.”

The committee also reiterated the PA’s demands for Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli officials did not seem overly concerned about Palestinian threats to go to “available international forums” regarding the settlements, an apparent reference to going to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“This is typical Palestinian brinkmanship,” one official said.

“They are saying, ‘if we don’t get what we want, we will bring down the house.’ ‘If they do that, they will force us to take action.’ These are typical threats.”

In a related development, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday evening to extend his greetings on the occasion of Ramadan.

“I hope we have the opportunity to speak to each other even when it is not a holiday, and we can start negotiations,” Netanyahu said. “It is important.”

He added that he hoped Kerry’s efforts to restart the negotiations would yield results.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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