Erekat: PLO is Israel's partner

Livni says Saudi Initiative 'positive' but concerned about clause on refugees.

The PLO under the jurisdiction of Palestinain Authority Chariman Mahmoud, is Israel's partners for negotiations, PA negotiator Saeb Erakat told Channel 10 on Thursday although admitting that Hamas's non-compliance with the Quartet's conditions was "problematic. Erakat went on to explain that the aim of Mecca Accord, which paved the way for a Fatah-Hamas unity government, was to end the Palestinian infighting, and the chaos and lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza and were nothing to do with negotiations with Israel. "If there is a peace agreement it will then go to a national referendum, " continued the Palestinian negotiator. Erakat went on to say that the Saudi Initiative was the "most strategically important initiative since 1948." "It is withdrawal in exchange for full normalization," he added. Regarding Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's reservations about the Palestinian refugee problem, Erekat said that the Saudi document stipulated that there should be a "fair and agreed upon solution." Earlier, Livni told Channel 10 that the Palestinian refugee problem needed to be solved "in the framework of a Palestinian state but a Palestinian state has not yet been established." She added that those who wanted to present the refugee demand as a separate issue were seeking to use it to delegitimize Israel. "The Saudi Initiative was positive. I said it many years ago when it was published," said Livni. "However," Livni explained, "two clauses were added which are problematic. Firstly, that the Palestinians refugees will not remain where they are today and secondly that they must return to their former homes." The foreign minister reiterated her belief in two states living in peace and security whose borders would be "determined by agreements." Livni said she had met many Palestinians who understood her reservations with the clauses about the refugees in the Saudi Initiative. Regarding the upcoming meeting between the US, Syria and Iran in Iraq, Livmi said it did not worry Israel since the talks were solely connected to war in Iraq. In response to a question regarding the proposal of MK Gidon Ezra (Kadima) that Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti be freed in order to strengthen Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Livni said that freeing the prisoner would be "incorrect" and that "it wouldn't strengthen Abbas." Moments later,