Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday that no discussions between the PA and Israel could begin without a complete construction freeze in Judea and Samaria. Erekat was responding to a call earlier in the morning by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to start peace talks.
“There can be no compromises on construction,” Erekat said. “If Israel is allowed to build 1,000 or 2,000 housing units it will lead the PA and the Arab nations to believe the U.S. government cannot convince the Israeli government to stop building.”
Netanyahu offered during the weekly cabinet meeting to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. “There is no reason why I should not meet with the chairman of the Palestinian Authority anywhere in Israel in order to get the diplomatic process going,” he said. Netanyahu suggested that the next meeting be held in Be'er Sheva, known as the "capital of the south," since the Cabinet met there this week to show solidarity with the region.
Abbas told an Egyptian newspaper Saturday that peace would only be possible if the PA would receive 100 percent of the territory over the Green Line, the right of Arab refugees to return to Israel, and territorial contiguity between Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
The PA chairman added that he sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama detailing his demands. He asked the American administration to pressure Israel to cease construction in Judea and Samaria and base future negotiations between Israel and the PA on the Saudi Arabia peace initiative, which Israel has repeatedly refused to accept.