Erekat: Peace talks with Israeli government have ended

On eve of visit to US, Chief PLO negotiator reiterates PA's refusal to return to negotiations unless Israel halts settlement construction.

Saeb Erekat 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Saeb Erekat 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
The peace talks with the Israeli government have ended and the situation requires the Palestinian Authority to make decisions as to how to solve the Palestinian issue, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat announced on Tuesday.
Erekat’s pessimistic assessment of the peace process came on the eve of his visithold talks with US officials on the latest developments in the region.
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He declared that he was carrying a message to the Obama administration that reiterated the PA’s refusal to return to the negotiating table unless Israel halted all construction activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Erekat said he had been invited to Washington to hear “new American ideas” on ways to revive the stalled peace talks. He stressed that he would not conduct secret talks with any representative of the Israeli government during his stay in Washington.
Erekat said he would brief US officials on Israel’s latest measures in east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, especially the demolition of the historic Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah and “assassinations, settlements and the continued siege on the Gaza Strip.”
He said he would also notify the administration of the PA’s intention to seek a UN Security Council resolution condemning construction in the settlements and calling for providing protection for the Palestinians.
“The talks [with Israel] have ended,” Erekat declared. “The government of Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to scrap all what was agreed upon in previous sessions of negotiations. They want to take us back to point zero.”
He added that the Netanyahu government’s platform was based on settlements, dictates, walls, incursions, assassinations, sieges and closures.
The talks have ended and it’s time for the Palestinians to make decisions, he said without elaborating.
The PA leadership has threatened to unilaterally seek the international community’s recognition of a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967, borders if the peace process fails – a move that is opposed by the US.
The Palestinians were determined to stay away from the peace talks unless Israel agrees to halt all settlement construction, he emphasized.
“We want a complete cessation of the construction, including in east Jerusalem,” he said. “There will be no negotiations of any kind as long as the construction continues.”
He revealed that some US and Israeli officials, including special adviser Dennis Ross and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, had tried to launch clandestine channels for negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.
“We made it clear to the Israelis and the Americans that there will be no secret negotiations with Israel,” Erekat said.
“Ross was in the region last week, but he didn’t meet with any Palestinian official.
Nor did he relay any message to the Palestinians regarding the resumption of the peace talks.”
Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah representative closely associated with President Mahmoud Abbas, also revealed that the PA leadership had turned down a number of offers to conduct behind-the-scenes negotiations with Israel.
Ahmed did not say who was behind the offers, which he denounced as a ploy by Israel to avoid holding serious and real talks with the Palestinians.
“We see no justification for conducting secret negotiations with Israel,” he said.