Erekat: Proximity talks have begun

PA negotiator says direct talks only after total settlement freeze.

Abbas and Mitchell 311 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas and Mitchell 311
(photo credit: AP)
US-mediated proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians have begun, chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday.
Speaking after a meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Erekat also said he expected the US to issue a statement later Sunday, giving its official position on the talks.
The Palestinian negotiator added that he hoped Israel would give the process a chance, rather than setting facts on the ground that will complicate the talks.
However, he said the Palestinians would only agree to direct talks should Israel impose a complete settlement construction freeze.
RELATED:PM commends PA, urges direct talksKassam fired into western Negev'PA boycott harms proximity talks'On Saturday, the PLO’s Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee gave their long-delayed backing for the indirect talks.
Hamas's Gaza leadership denounced the PLO decision on Saturday as a “stab in the back of our people,” and said the PLO does not represent the Palestinians, underscoring that the negotiations will be with representatives of only little more than half the Palestinians.