(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday stepped up its attacks on Israel and reiterated its strong opposition to returning to the negotiating table while construction in the settlements was continuing.
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Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of "spreading lies" aimed at depicting the Palestinians as not being interested in making peace.
Abed Rabbo claimed that Israel was responsible for media reports according to which the PA had set new conditions for resuming US-sponsored direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
"Israel is seeking to distort the Palestinian position," Abed Rabbo told reporters in Ramallah. "This is taking place while Israel is continuing to steal our lands, expand settlements, demolish houses, torch agricultural fields and Judaize Jerusalem," he said.
"Halting the construction in the settlements should be the main foundation for a new peace process and the international community should recognize the 1967 borders as the separating barrier between Israel and Palestine."
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the PA presidency, said theta the continued construction in the settlements was a "flagrant challenge" to the Palestinians, Arabs, US Administration and international efforts to revive the peace process.
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA would present the Arab League foreign ministers, who are scheduled to meet in November, with details about the ongoing activities in the settlements.
The ministers, who met in Libya recently, gave the US 30 days to try and
convince Israel to extend the freeze of construction in the
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA would also present the ministers with a number of options if the peace process fails.
PA has announced that the options it was studying including asking the
US and the United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian
state on the 1967 boundaries.
Some Fatah officials, including
former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, have said that the Palestinians
should also not rule out the option of an armed struggle against Israel
if the talks failed.
PA negotiator Nabil Sha'ath said that the US
Administration had the ability to exert pressure on Israel to stop
settlement construction and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He said
that Abbas was planning to visit Saudi Arabia and a number of Arab
countries in the coming days for consultations on the future of the
peace talks with Israel.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat urged
the international community to hold Israel responsible for the
suspension of the peace talks.
"There are no compromises
regarding the settlements," he said. "Our position is that Israel should
stop all settlement construction in order for the direct talks to
Erekat accused the Israeli government of working toward
deceiving the international community by creating the false impression
that it was considering extending the moratorium on the work in the