PA says Israel ‘spreading lies’ about peace intentions

Erekat: No compromises on settlements; our position is that Israel should stop all settlement construction in order for the direct talks to resume.

311_Abbas winking (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Abbas winking
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday stepped up its criticism of Israel and reiterated its opposition to returning to the negotiating table as long as construction in the settlements continues.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of “spreading lies” aimed at depicting the Palestinians as being uninterested in making peace.
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Abed Rabbo said that Israel was responsible for media reports according to which the PA had set new conditions for resuming US-sponsored direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Israel is seeking to distort the Palestinian position,” Abed Rabbo told reporters in Ramallah. “This is taking place while Israel is continuing to steal our land, expand settlements, demolish houses, torch agricultural fields and Judaize Jerusalem,” he said.
“Halting the construction in the settlements should be the main foundation for a new peace process, and the international community should recognize the 1967 borders as the separating barrier between Israel and Palestine.”
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the PA presidency, said the continued construction in the settlements was a “flagrant challenge” to the Palestinians, Arabs, US administration and international efforts to revive the peace process.
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA would present the Arab League foreign ministers, who are scheduled to meet next month, with details about the ongoing activities in the settlements.
The ministers, who met in Libya two week ago, gave the US 30 days to convince Israel to extend the freeze of construction in the settlements.
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA would also present the ministers with a number of options if the peace process fails.
The PA has announced that the options it was studying included asking the US and the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 boundaries.
Some Fatah officials, including former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, have said that the Palestinians should not rule out the option of an “armed struggle” against Israel if the talks fail.
PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said that the US administration had the ability to pressure Israel to stop settlement construction and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He said Abbas was planning to visit Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries in the coming days for consultations on the future of the peace talks.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat urged the international community to hold Israel responsible for the suspension of the peace talks.
“There are no compromises regarding the settlements,” he said.
“Our position is that Israel should stop all settlement construction in order for the direct talks to resume.”
Erekat accused the Israeli government of working toward deceiving the international community by creating the false impression that it was considering extending the moratorium on work in the settlements.