On Friday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of pressuring the Palestinians into joining direct talks without meeting the basic condition for moving forward, freezing the expansion of the settlements.
Senior Palestinian officials also told the London-based al-Hayat
newspaper on Friday that the American government had asked Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to participate in direct talks with Israel because of the difficulties Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell had experienced in mediating talks.
"Abbas wants American and Israeli guarantees [before joining direct talks] so that the goal of the conversations will be clear," the officials were cited by Army Radio as telling the newspaper.
The guarantees the officials mentioned included, "the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lands captured in the 1967 war and small territory exchanges to solve the problem of the settlements."