PA rejects direct talks with Israel

Erekat says Quartet called for separate talks with 2 parties, Palestinians have complied with demands; comments come in response to remarks by US State Department spokesman that direct talks are necessary.

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December 5, 2011 04:21
2 minute read.
Erekat

PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The Palestinian Authority reiterated Sunday its opposition to holding direct peace talks with Israel and pointed out that the Quartet members – the US, EU, UN and Russia – had called for separate negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

The PA’s announcement came in response to remarks by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who said last Friday that Israel and the Palestinians must start direct talks before there can be any negotiation on borders and security.

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Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed surprise at Washington’s call for direct talks.

He said that the Quartet called last September for separate talks with the two parties, during which Israel and the Palestinians would present their positions on security and borders.

Erekat said that the Palestinians have since complied with the Quartet’s demands and presented their positions on the two issues.

“Now the spokesman of the US State Department is talking about face-to-face talks, but this is contrary to what the Quartet had requested,” Erekat told the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds daily newspaper.



The PLO official said that the Palestinians would agree to face-to-face talks only when Israel halts all settlement construction and accepts the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Erekat accused the Israeli government of seeking to divert attention from its refusal to present the Quartet with its stance on security and borders. “The Israeli government prefers the formula of negotiating for the sake of negotiations,” he charged.

PA officials in Ramallah accused the administration of President Barack Obama of avoiding fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the Quartet.

“The Americans are trying to put the blame on the Palestinians for the continued stalemate in the peace process, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian Authority has been cooperative with the Quartet’s efforts,” said one official. “How can the Obama administration call for direct talks in contradiction to the position of the Quartet?” Another PA official claimed that the presidential elections in the US were a major factor in Obama’s decision to refrain from exerting any pressure on the Israeli government.

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