'PA won't react to freeze offer until officially updated'

Abbas spokesman says PA has not received information on Israeli, US plan; Erekat says US failed to convince Netanyahu to halt construction, expresses strong reservations about temporary freeze.

November 14, 2010 10:07
2 minute read.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat gives a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Erekat 311. (photo credit: AP)

The Palestinian Authority has not received any information regarding a US plan to continue the West Bank building freeze, Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas's spokesman, Nabil abu Radina, said Sunday according to an Army Radio report.

Abbas's spokesperson added that the Palestinian Authority will not release its official standpoint on the subject until Abbas receives an official update from the US.

US asks Israel for 90-day settlement building moratorium
Poll: Should the government accept the US freeze proposal?
'US failed to convince Netanyahu to halt construction'

Earlier on Sunday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed strong reservations about the US proposal, because it would only apply to the West Bank and not east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' hoped-for capital. But Erekat did not reject it outright, saying the Palestinians would consult among themselves and with Arab leaders.

Erekat said the Americans had not officially informed the Palestinians about the details of the proposal, but "they know we have a major problem in not including east Jerusalem."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will put the US plan before Palestinian decision-makers and call for an immediate session of Arab League officials before announcing an official decision, Erekat said.

The principles of the agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and explained to the full cabinet on Sunday.

Peace talks ground to a halt, just three weeks after they began at the White House, after Israel resisted U.S. and Palestinian pressure to extend a 10-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank that expired Sept. 26. The Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table if construction resumed on land they want for a future state and gave the U.S. until later this month to come up with a formula to salvage the talks.

The diplomatic climate soured even further last week after Israel pressed ahead with plans to build 1,300 apartments in east Jerusalem.

In a seven-hour meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the United States last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that in exchange for a new construction moratorium, the White House would ask Congress to supply Israel with 20 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion, an Israeli official said.

The US would also commit to fight international resolutions that would be critical of Israel or unilaterally advance the Palestinian quest for statehood, he said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending the presentation of the deal to the Cabinet on Sunday.

Under the proposal, the US has agreed not to seek a further extension of the building moratorium after it expires. The idea is that the 90-day period would give the two sides time to work out an agreement on borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, thereby making it clear where Israel can continue to build and where it cannot.

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