Erekat: Israelis want peace, PM needs convincing

Palestinian chief negotiator says Israeli government not consistent in voicing support for a two-state solution.

Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Kerry and Erekat shaking hands USE THIS ONE 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that he believes the majority of Israelis want a peace agreement and accept a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, but  Israel's government has not been consistent in voicing support for such a solution.
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Erekat welcomed President Shimon Peres's call for an immediate resumption of peace talks in his speech to the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Sunday, however, he stated that the reactions of several ministers to Peres's speech was troubling.
Erekat said that after hearing Peres's speech, he woke up Monday morning and saw in the Israeli newspapers Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz saying Peres was not a government spokesman and Tourism Minister Uzi Landau referring to the pre-1967 lines as "Auschwitz borders."
"I know you are a democracy, but usually a coalition has a program," Erekat said in response to the different opinions being voiced by Israeli politicians.
The PA negotiator said that "everyone on Earth is convinced that a state on the 67 borders is the answer, but the one person we must convince is [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu.
Erekat stated that the PA's insistence that talks not resume until Netanyahu accepts a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines does not constitute a pre-condition, but rather is an Israeli obligation to conform to UN resolutions as set out in the Oslo Accords.
Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) accused Erekat of "chutzpa," pointing out differing opinions among Israeli politicians while the PA holds reconciliation talks with Hamas, which rejects a two-state solution.
Erdan said that Netanyahu has made clear that he supports a two-state solution.
In addition to Peres, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Sunday. Kerry unveiled a $4 billion economic plan to revitalize the Palestinian economy, but added that the plan was not a substitute for a diplomatic process.
Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.