The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that it had won the backing of Egypt,
Jordan and several other Arab countries for its refusal to return to the
negotiating table unless Israel extended the moratorium on settlement
RELATED:PA seeks Arab help to end talks unless freeze renewedAbdullah: 'Future generations will judge us on the talks'
The announcement was made following a meeting in Cairo
between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni
A senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that
the US administration was now talking about the possibility of extending the
moratorium by an additional three months to avoid the collapse of the peace
“This is not a bad proposal,” the official said. “But it remains
to be seen if the Americans are able to exert pressure on [Prime Minister
Binyamin] Netanyahu to stop the construction in the settlements.”
talks in Cairo come ahead of a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Libya
on Friday to discuss the future of the peace talks in light of the resumption of
construction in the settlements.
The meeting is being held at the request
of the PA leadership, which has announced that it won’t return to the
negotiating table with Israel unless the settlement freeze is
“There is full agreement between the Palestinian Authority and
Egypt with regard to the issue of settlement construction,” said Nabil Abu
Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, following the Cairo meeting. “There has to be a
comprehensive freeze of settlement construction so as to give peace efforts a
Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the PA negotiating team, said that
the Palestinians can’t resume talks with Israel under the motto of land for
peace “while the land is being stolen and settlements are growing.” He
added that Israel alone would be held responsible for the destruction of the
“No US-sponsored peace process would have credibility when
the Americans can’t force Israel to fulfill one of the principal obligations –
to stop settlement construction,” Sha’ath said.
“We in Egypt are invested
with our utmost efforts in ensuring that the direct talks between Israel and the
Palestinians will not collapse because of the settlements,” Mubarak said after
the meeting with Abbas. He added that Egypt hoped “this opportunity to establish
peace will not be missed as were many opportunities in the
Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II told Netanyahu by telephone
on Tuesday to halt all building in the settlements.
“Any unilateral steps
that threaten peace must be stopped, especially building in settlements,”
Abdullah told Netanyahu, according to a statement released by his palace. “The
region is at a critical point that requires significant effort to solve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two states for two peoples, an
opportunity that must not be missed for the benefit of future generations.”
Abdullah met in Amman earlier Tuesday with Minister of Welfare and Social
Services Isaac Herzog and stressed the need to take advantage of the historic
opportunity afforded by the current talks. According to Herzog, the king said
that all efforts must be made to ensure that the direct talks continue,
something that will necessitate courage and a great deal of responsibility on
the part of the leaders.
“We completely understand the size of this
challenge and how it could eventually change the face of the Middle East, and
the obligation on all the sides to take immediate, courageous steps for peace,”
Herzog told the king. “We must advance direct negotiations for the sake of peace
and improve relations between the states and residents of the Middle East in
general. This requires that the leaders make maximum efforts and take
This was Herzog’s second trip to Amman in a little over
a month, having met Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifaay at the end of
A spokeswoman for Herzog said that the minister had a long
history of relations with Jordan’s royal family, starting many years ago with
his uncle Ya’acov Herzog and former foreign minister Abba Eban, who worked with
King Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, during the 1960s and 1970s.
crisis surrounding the peace talks coincides with reports about a possible
reconciliation between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas.
of the two rival parties are scheduled to hold a second round of talks on
October 20 to discuss ways of ending their dispute and forming a unity
The first meeting was held in the Syrian capital of Damascus
two weeks ago. It was the first meeting of its kind between Hamas and Fatah
since the beginning of the year.
Spokesmen for the two sides said they
were optimistic regarding the prospects of reaching a deal that would end their
power struggle and the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Risheq, a senior Hamas official in Syria, said the upcoming meeting would focus
on solving security-related issues, including the release of hundreds of Hamas
detainees from PA jails in the West Bank.
But despite the optimism
expressed by both sides, Hamas and Fatah leaders continued to attack each other
through the media.
Ahmed Bahr, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip,
called on Fatah to “take a brave decision and fire the unconstitutional
government of Salam Fayyad.” Bahr also called for bringing Fayyad to
trial for allegedly perpetrating “dangerous crimes” against the Palestinians and
In a move that has further intensified tensions between
Hamas and Fatah, a PA military court in the West Bank sentenced two Hamas
supporters to prison.
Ala Hisham Abu Diab was sentenced to 20 years in
prison with hard labor while Abdel Fatah Hassan was given 12 years. The latter’s
wife, Mirvat, was sentenced to one year in prison.
All three were
indicted for their role in the death of three PA policemen during a violent
confrontation with Hamas gunmen in Kalkilya in June 2009. The three were also
found guilty of “conspiring against the Palestinian Authority and possessing
unlicensed weapons.” In response, Hamas said that the verdicts contradicted the
talk about a possible reconciliation with Fatah.
Hamas legislator Salah
Bardaweel condemned the court ruling, saying that judges who “receive their
salaries from the Zionists can’t be called Palestinian.” He said that the
verdict was in the context of the PA’s ongoing security clampdown on Hamas
supporters in the West Bank.
The families of the three defendants denied
the charges and said their only “crime” was that they had provided shelter to
Hamas gunmen who engaged in a firefight with PA security forces.Gil
Hoffman contributed to this report.