Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department Thursday vowed to pursue the peace talks with Israel despite the resignation of negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh in protest against continued construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
The PLO said said that the resignation does not “invalidate the commitment made by the PLO to continue negotiations until the end of the nine month period agreed with Israel and the US, which ends on April 29, 2014.”
The PLO stressed that the Palestinian leadership would continue its process of internal consultations and its contacts with the Arab League, Russia, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations, along with other international parties, in order to advance the cause for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Noting that the resignation relates only to the current negotiations team, the PLO said that Erekat and Shtayyeh wrote to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas explaining that they would not be able to continue fulfilling their duties as negotiators and requesting that he relieve them of their positions.
“This request was motivated by a number of factors,” the PLO department said. “An unprecedented escalation of colonization and oppression against Palestine and the Palestinian people by the State of Israel; a lack of seriousness from the Israeli government about reaching a two-state solution; and the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill commitments undertaken before the resumption of direct negotiations on July 29, 2013.”
The PLO said that the resignation was also motivated by the Israeli government’s “political use of the release of pre-Oslo prisoners in order to advance its illegal and profoundly damaging settlement enterprise throughout the occupied State of Palestine. This, combined with the false allegation that an agreement between the PLO and Israel was made in order to exchange prisoners for settlements, has demonstrated bad faith and a severe lack of integrity on the Israeli side.”