PA quashes PM's offer for renewed building freeze

Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat rejects tying "racist demands of Netanyahu" renewed with settlement building freeze.

Erekat 311 (photo credit: AP)
Erekat 311
(photo credit: AP)
Senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday stated that the Palestinian Authority unreservedly rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's offer of a renewed building freeze in the West Bank in exchange for PA recognition of Israel as the Jewish national home.
"We forcefully reject all these Israeli games," said Erekat. "The racist demands of Netanyahu cannot be tied to the request to cease building in the settlements for the purpose of establishing a state."
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A spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas also rejected Netanyahu's offer to extend the settlement freeze in the territories for the PA's recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
"The topic of the Jewishness of the state is not connected at all to the issue [of the building freeze]," the spokesman said Monday.
Netanyahu had made the bold offer during his speech at the opening of the winter session of the Knesset earlier in the day.
In his speech, the prime minister challenged his Palestinian counterparts to continue the peace talks by saying he would initiate a cabinet proposal to renew a settlement moratorium if the PA would declare its recognition of Israel as a national home for the Jewish people.Netanyahu's comments put an end to a couple of weeks of speculation regarding how he would deal with the moratorium issue.
He said that Palestinian recognition would be an important "confidence building measure" and would send an important positive message to the Israeli people of  Palestinian intentions.
Netanyahu said that he sent this message to the Palestinians through a variety of channels.