US to inform PA whether Israel is prepared to halt construction in the capital.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
The US administration is expected to inform the Palestinian Authority on Thursday whether Israel is prepared to halt construction in all settlements as well as in east Jerusalem, to pave the way for the launching of indirect talks, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday.Erekat said that the PA would decide whether to participate in the US-sponsored indirect talks only after hearing from the Americans whether Israel would heed calls for a total freeze of settlement construction. He stressed that the freeze should also include Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.Erekat said that a senior US official was planning to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to brief him on the results of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talks in Washington with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Erekat added that the US response would be presented to the PA leadership and the upcoming Arab League summit in Libya for discussion.Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, said that the Palestinians would not resume peace talks with Israel unless it halted construction of “settlements in Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories.”Abdel Rahim said that Israel’s insistence on building new homes inJewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would destroy the two-statesolution and the entire peace process.“Israel’s settlement construction will aggravate tensions and pose a threat to regional and international security,” he added.He claimed that the PA had fulfilled all its obligations under theterms of the road map for peace in the Middle East, while Israel “hasnot fulfilled any of its commitments.”He also claimed that Israel was trying to drag the Palestinians into anew cycle of violence so it could avoid fulfilling its commitments.
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