Erekat denies plans for Israeli-Palestinian meetings

PA official says alleged October 23 Jordan meeting will not take place; reiterates demand for settlement freeze and '67 lines.

Erekat talking with hands in air 311 (photo credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Erekat talking with hands in air 311
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
RAMALLAH - Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat denied on Thursday that Palestinian and Israeli delegates would soon meet in Jordan to discuss restarting peace talks, reiterating demands that Israel stop building settlements before negotiations can resume.
Washington and its allies are scrambling to resurrect peace talks to defuse a diplomatic crisis after PA President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a request last month for Palestine to be recognised as a UN member state.
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A US State Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday Washington was hopeful the Israelis and Palestinians would hold a preliminary meeting in Jordan on Oct. 23.
But Erekat, a veteran Palestinian peace negotiator and close adviser to Abbas, told Voice of Palestine radio that no such meeting was planned.
"It was said that there are meetings and calls for meetings in Jordan between an Israeli and a Palestinian delegation with the Quartet. This talk is not true. We did not receive anything from them," he said.
The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators comprises the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. The Quartet issued a statement on Sept. 23 calling on the sides to hold a preliminary meeting within a month that would lead to full peace talks.
Erekat said: "My view is that anyone who tries to get around the point that Israel must halt settlement and accept the '67 borders is only wasting their time," he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has refused to halt the building of  settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
He says the Palestinians should have come to the table when he partially froze West Bank building for 10 months between 2009 and 2010, and any talks should come with no preconditions.
Netanyahu told the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Monday he was willing to meet Abbas to restart peace talks.
Ashton on Sunday announced plans to invite Israeli and Palestinian representatives to meet to discuss resuming negotiations. The last round of talks broke down a year ago over the settlement issue.
Abbas, currently in Paris, is due to meet the US Middle East envoy David Hale later on Thursday, Erekat said.
"There will be no negotiations for the sake of negotiations," he said.
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