Erekat denies recognition of statehood is unilateralism

PA negotiator calls settlement freeze Israeli obligation, not Palestinian condition; Ayalon notes talks have occurred along side building in past.

Saeb Erekat 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Saeb Erekat 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Responding to accusations that the Palestinian Authority took unilateral actions by seeking recognition from South American countries this week, Chief PA Negotiator Saeb Erekat told Army Radio on Tuesday that there is nothing unilateral about it.
Erekat went further, saying that such recognition was not even new. He noted that the Palestinians declared statehood in 1988, which was since recognized by 104 countries around the world and has nearly as many embassies.
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The senior Palestinian official added that if the international community wants a two-state solution, it must recognize a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, saying that it isn't unilateralism.
When asked to discuss the Palestinian demand for a continued settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table with Israel, Erekat responded that a "settlement freeze is not a Palestinian condition, it is an Israeli obligation." He declared that continued building in the West Bank goes against the Road Map obligations.
Alleging that settlement construction is not constructive to the stalled peace talks, he asked, "Once you are negotiating on the end game, how can you build on the land that is supposed to be the end game?"
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also discussed the issues of the South American recognition of a Palestinian state and a West Bank settlement freeze.
Responding to Erekat's declaration that a settlement freeze is an Israeli obligation, Ayalon retorted that it is a Palestinian condition. He noted that in the past, negotiations have taken place as life (building) went on [in the West Bank].
Ayalon, however, did not respond as sharply to Erekat's statement that recognition of Palestinian statehood was nothing new. The deputy foreign minister acknowledged that Palestinian statehood was declared decades ago and noted that Israeli embassies often encounter Palestinian diplomatic missions throughout the world.
He added that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about his intentions to recognize a Palestinian state several months ago during a visit.
Discussing the current situation where countries, especially in Europe, have decided that there is no resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than a two-state solution, Ayalon said that every Israeli government for many years has agreed with the statement.