Settlement Building 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinian Authority officials said on Sunday that they were “surprised” to hear about the latest US proposal for a three-month settlement freeze in return for a package of incentives to Israel.
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Some officials in Ramallah did not hide their disappointment with the “sudden change” in US policy which, they explained, puts the PA in a difficult situation. However, they stopped short of rejecting the US offer in public.
The officials expressed strong reservations about the US proposal, mainly because it does not include east Jerusalem and limits the freeze to three months only.
One official closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas
criticized the US Administration for “succumbing to [Prime Minister
Binyamin] Netanyahu’s extortions.”
The official told The Jerusalem Post
that the PA’s credibility would be
severely damaged if it resumed the peace talks with Israel while “the
building was continuing in East Jerusalem.”
Abbas and other Palestinian officials had stressed in the past few weeks
that they would not return to the negotiating table unless Israel
halted all settlement construction, including in east Jerusalem. They
had also voiced their opposition to a temporary freeze.
Although the PA said it would wait for clarifications from the US
Administration regarding the incentive package, some of Abbas’s aides
expressed fear that Washington would put heavy pressure on the
Palestinian leadership to return to the talks once the Israeli
government agrees to a three-month freeze.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, and Chief PLO negotiator Saeb
Erekat, said that the PA would consult with “Palestinian and Arab
leaderships” before announcing its final stance regarding the US
The PLO Executive Committee, a key decision-making body dominated by
Abbas loyalists, on Sunday reiterated its opposition to a “partial
freeze” of settlement construction, adding that construction should also
be halted in east Jerusalem.
“A settlement freeze must be comprehensive and permanent,” the committee
said in a statement. “What’s the point of negotiating while Israel is
continuing to steal Palestinian land?”
In a message directed toward the US administration, the committee warned
that failure to force Israel to stop its “illegitimate” settlement on
Palestinian lands would undermine any chance of reaching a two-state
solution and plunge the region into violence.”
The PLO committee also expressed opposition to the US package of
incentives to Israel and warned against succumbing to Israeli