PA: Key to resuming peace talks in Israel's hands

Erekat reiterates opposition to resuming negotiations without full cessation of settlement construction, release of prisoners.

March 24, 2013 21:41
1 minute read.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at construction site for Route 4, March 14, 2013.

Saeb Erekat 370. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)


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The Palestinian Authority reiterated on Sunday its opposition to resuming peace talks with Israel without a full cessation of settlement construction and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The announcement follows a meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman on Saturday night.

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A senior US State Department official called the separate talks Kerry had with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday “useful.”

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said the key to resuming the stalled peace talks was in the hands of Israel.

Erekat told the Japanese envoy to the PA during a meeting in Jericho that the Palestinians have not changed their proposition regarding the resumption of the peace process following US President Barack Obama’s visit to the region last week.

“The problem is not with the shape of the meetings or on what level they are held,” Erekat said. “The problem centers around the content, which includes an Israeli commitment to halt all settlement activities, including in east Jerusalem, and the release of 107 Palestinian prisoners who were incarcerated prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords.”

Erekat added that the Israeli government must also accept the principle of a two-state solution on the basis of the pre- 1967 lines before the talks are resumed.

“How can we resume the talks without defining their terms of reference?” he asked.

“The Israeli government seeks long-term interim solutions – something that President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO are categorically opposed to.”

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al- Malki announced Sunday that there was an American-Arab agreement to “review” the Palestinian issue in its entirety and search for new mechanisms to overcome obstacles to achieving peace in the region.

Malki said that it was high time the Arab countries come up with new ideas instead of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

“This initiative can’t remain on the table for a long time because Israel has ignored it,” he said. “The Arabs can’t continue to promote an initiative that the other side doesn’t pay attention to or appreciate.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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