Abbas at Arab League summit.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority has set new conditions for agreeing to extend the peace talks with Israel after April, PA officials in Ramallah said Thursday.
Two of the new conditions include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and the release of 1,200 more Palestinian prisoners, the officials said.
The Palestinian Authority is now demanding that Israel release three senior terrorists: Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat and Fuad Shobaki.
The conditions also include a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C in the West Bank, a halt to Israeli military operations in PA-controlled territories, and “reunion” permits for some 15,000 Palestinians.
Still other conditions include reopening the Gaza border crossings, lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and permitting the return of Palestinian terrorists who were deported to the Gaza Strip and Europe after they sought shelter from the IDF in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.
The conditions were announced during a meeting of Fatah leaders with chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat in Ramallah.
A Fatah leader quoted Erekat as saying that he relayed the new conditions to the Israeli side during a meeting in Jerusalem late Wednesday. Erekat and Majed Faraj, commander of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, held a nine-hour meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and US envoy Martin Indyk.
Ziad Abu Ein, a Fatah official who attended the meeting in Ramallah with Erekat, said that if Israel accepts these conditions and releases the fourth batch of prisoners, then the PA would agree to pursue the negotiations until the end of the year.
Abu Ein said that the Palestinian Authority is determined to pursue its bid to join international institutions and treaties despite a request from Israel to delay the move so as to give the Americans a chance to continue their efforts to achieve an agreement between the two sides.
Abu Ein and other Palestinian officials said that the PA leadership’s goal now is to seek membership in the International Criminal Court as a first step toward prosecuting Israelis for “war crimes” against Palestinians.
Erekat was quoted as telling the Fatah leaders that Israel is seeking to turn the PA into a powerless authority. “Netanyahu wants an occupation that does not cost anything,” Erekat said. “He’s also trying to exclude the Gaza Strip from any deal.”