Erekat dismisses latest Israeli incentive package to PA

PA chief negotiator says Netanyahu is playing games and haggling: "This is deception and we don't need such gestures."

Saeb Erekat 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Saeb Erekat 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday dismissed as “nonsense and unacceptable” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s latest package of incentives that included authorization for Israeli-Arab construction in east Jerusalem as well as Palestinian construction in Area C.
“This is deception and we don't need such gestures,” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
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“We need a solution that includes a settlement freeze and acceptance of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders,” said Erekat.
He spoke one day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Quartet special envoy Tony Blair met in Jerusalem to announce new Israeli measures to ease life for the Palestinians.
The announcement came in the midst of the upheaval in Egypt and one day before the Quartet was scheduled to meet in Germany to discuss the stalled Israeli Palestinian peace talks.
Although he did not specifically reference events in Egypt, Netanyahu said that it was important at this time to enhance stability by taking measures that contribute to long-term peace and security.
“We are announcing a series of steps for the Palestinian areas that I think will make economic prosperity and living standards rise and I think that’s important,” said Netanyahu.
He clarified that these measures were not a substitute for a negotiated settlement to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
“I don’t delude myself for a second than an economic peace is a substitute for political peace. We need both and I hope that Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] will heed my call and enter direct negotiations with us.”
The Palestinians have refused to talk with Israel until it halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel has refuse to meet this demand and instead has called for talks without preconditions.
In spite of the stalled talks, Israel on Friday it said that it would allow infrastructure improvements in Palestinians neighborhoods of east Jerusalem as well as permit two Palestinian housing projects in that area of the city.
It further agreed to the construction and or renovation of police stations in seven Palestinian cities in Area B and to fast track the construction and or renovation of health clinics and schools in Area C.
Israel said it would issue 5,000 West Bank ID cards to Gaza registered residents of the West Bank.
It also said it would resolve outstanding issues between Israel and the PA having to do with revenue collection.
With respect to Gaza, Israel promised to allow enough construction material into the area so that electricity and water plants could be built.
In addition it promised that a sewage treatment plant and two such mobile plants could be constructed.
It also said that 20 new construction projects could be built, on top of the 100 that have already been approved.
Israel, he said, would take steps to promote Gaza exports, particularly with respect to furniture, textiles and agriculture.
Lastly, both Netanyahu and Blair spoke of the resumption of the stalled negotiations to development two natural gas fields, one owned by Israel and the other by the Palestinians.
Blair said that in the absence of negotiations it is important to continue to improve life for the Palestinians.
Past Israeli measures along with steps taken by the PA have improved life for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, he said.
“The combination of these measures should result, over time, in a radical overhaul of Gaza’s infrastructure,” said Blair.
He called on Palestinians in Gaza to stop launching rockets against Israel so all energies could be focused on improving life in Gaza.
“I would urge an end to all attacks coming out of Gaza. Such attacks inhibit our ability to help the people of Gaza and the absence of such attacks allows us to get on with the job of helping them,” he said.
“I am pleased at the package of measures agreed today with the government of Israel,” said Blair, as he thanked Netanyahu for his support for these measures which he said had been in the works for several months.