Erekat: Israel prefers settlements over peace

PA reacts to east Jerusalem housing plans by urging world to recognize Palestinian state.

November 10, 2010 02:44
1 minute read.
Saeb Erekat

Erekat 311. (photo credit: AP)

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday strongly condemned Israeli plans to build new homes in Jerusalem and called on the international community to respond by recognizing a Palestinian state on the territories captured by Israel in 1967.

PA officials said the construction plans showed that the Israeli government preferred building in the settlements to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians.

“The international community must respond to Israel’s unilateral measures by instantly recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” said chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat. “While the Palestinians and the rest of the world were expecting [Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu to announce a full cessation of settlement construction, he’s now sending to us and the US Administration a different message to the effect that Israel has chosen settlements and rejected peace.”

Erekat said that Israel’s “illegal practices,” which include settlement construction, bypass highways, the security fence and restricted movement for Palestinians, are aimed at preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The time has come, he added, for “difficult decisions because the Palestinians could no longer remain idle in the face of Israel’s practices that consolidate the occupation on our land.”

Erekat urged the international community to intervene immediately to salvage the two-state solution, achieve lasting peace and recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital “as a natural response to the measures of Israel, which considers itself to be above the law.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the Israeli plan to build new homes in Jerusalem and said peace and settlements can’t go together.

Abbas told members of a Chinese delegation visiting Ramallah that halting settlement construction was not a Palestinian condition, but an “international demand.” He also told them that the Palestinians had fulfilled all their obligations under international agreements and the road map for peace, while Israel hadn’t fulfilled even one.

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