Erekat accuses Israel of trying to get rid of Abbas

Abbas, PA officials criticize US Secretary of State Kerry for his inability to convince Israel to accept Palestinian pre-conditions to return to negotiation table; complain Israel is unwilling to talk to PA about Jerusalem.

June 1, 2013 17:16
2 minute read.
PA President Abbas and Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat [file].

Abbas and Erekat 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Tarek Mostafa)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas complained over the weekend that the US Administration was putting pressure on him to return to the negotiating table with Israel unconditionally.

PLO officials who were briefed by Abbas said that US Secretary of State John Kerry has failed to secure an Israeli pledge to stop building in settlements and accept the pre-1967 lines as the future border between Israel and a Palestinian state.

Kerry phoned Abbas twice over the weekend and discussed with him once again ideas that could lead to the resumption of the peace process, a PA official in Ramallah said.

The official too said that Abbas was facing “huge pressure” from Kerry to abandon his pre-conditions for the resumption of the peace talks.

“The pressure should be on the Israeli side and not on President Abbas,” the official said. “If Kerry can’t convince Israel to change its policies and practices, that’s his problem and not ours.”

In a related development, Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that Israel was trying to get rid of Abbas because of his refusal to give up the rights of the Palestinians.

Erekat told Dubai TV that “all of Israel is saying that he [Abbas] is not a peace partner. They are talking about the need to get rid of him.”

Erekat said that the reason why Israel was trying to get rid of Abbas was his “adherence” to the rights of the Palestinians.

Erekat warned that Abbas could meet the same fate of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, for refusing to make concessions to Israel.

Erekat added that because of his positions, Arafat was “besieged and died for his principles.”

On Kerry’s current efforts to revive the peace talks with Israel, Erekat warned that the Palestinians would embark on a new strategy should the mission fail.

“The Palestinians want Kerry to commit Israel to accept the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, halt settlement construction and release prisoners,” Erekat said.

The new Palestinian strategy, he pointed out, would include resumption of efforts to join 63 international agencies and conventions.

Erekat accused Israel of conducting negotiations “outside the negotiating table by creating facts on the ground and imposing dictates, building settlements, assassinations, closures and house demolitions.”

PLO officials quoted Abbas as saying that Israel has refused to discuss the issue of Jerusalem with the PA, the PA’s official newspaper Al-Ayyam reported Saturday.

During a meeting with Arab residents of Jerusalem in his office over the weekend, Abbas said that “without Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state there would be no political solution.”

He added: “East Jerusalem is the essence of the State of Palestine. It is in the hearts of all Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims. We won’t leave this land despite all the pressure and assaults.”

PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amireh said that Kerry has brought nothing new. “He is only talking about development in the context of an unrealistic economic plan,” Amireh said.

According to Amireh, Kerry wants to talk only about security and borders.

Another PLO official, Wasel Abu Yusef, said that Kerry has failed to convince Israel to stop settlement construction and accept the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.

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