PA declines Quartet proposal but says it's 'encouraging'

After PLO executive committee meeting, official Abed Rabbo says Palestinians can't restart talks amid continued settlement building.

PA President Abbas at PLO Executive meeting 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
PA President Abbas at PLO Executive meeting 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) effectively rejected on Thursday a proposal by the Quartet to resume suspended peace negotiations with Israel next month without precondition.
The PLO executive committee, meeting in Ramallah, noted the proposal but said, as expected, that Israel must halt all settlement building in the West Bank before they will restart talks, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted.


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"The Palestinian leadership stresses clearly that it cannot accept holding negotiations that lack the minimum limits of responsibility and seriousness amid the continuation of settlements and stealing of land," said top PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Abed Rabbo did not expressly reject the Quartet proposal. He told reporters the PLO had "noted" it and said it included some "encouraging items", such as its reference to the 1967 lines.
Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Reuters: "The Quartet committee statement is not acceptable. It is not clear and it holds the stick in the middle and divides responsibility between the two sides.
"The Quartet committee should either be a credible and responsible international institution (or) say 'we cannot compel Israel to respect international law'," he added.
On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the inner cabinet of eight ministers to discuss the Quartet’s proposal. After a five-hour long meeting the ministers said that they supported the proposal but did not come to an official conclusion that it would be approved.
Netanyahu said over the weekend in New York that he viewed the Quartet proposal favorably, but would wait to issue a formal response until he met with his senior ministers.
Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, representing the right flank in the inner cabinet, said this week that while he had reservations about the Quartet statement, “the fact that it calls for negotiations without preconditions is a great achievement for Israel.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.