Daily Israel Report

Erekat: Freeze Construction or Talks End

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has threatened to end talks on January 26 if Israel doesn't freeze construction, again.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/13/2012, 1:06 PM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat vowed to terminate exploratory talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah after January 26 if Israel does not freeze construction in the disputed territories.

"The Amman talks are intended to obtain a colony freeze and the use of the 1967 lines as a reference for any future talks, and will be given a chance to succeed until January 26," Erakat told AFP.

His comments come after two rounds of meetings between the two sides' respective team leaders in Amman, Jordan under the auspices of the Hashemite monarchy and Quartet for Middle East Peace.

The Quartet - comprised of the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States - has called on both sides to submit comprehensive proposals on borders and security by January 26.

Observers say the implementation of a building freeze is a political impossibility for the Netanyahu government, which has already rejected such a move and moved to approve thousands of construction tenders in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem in recent months.

A previous 10-month building freeze by Israel aimed at meeting Ramallah's demands was rebuffed and met with more preconditions - as well as a unilateral bid for statehood, in violation of the Oslo Accords, by PLO officials at the United Nations last September.

Erekat is now demanding Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as a basis for a future PA state, a renewed building freeze, and a release of all Arab terrorists from Israeli prisons - including those with blood on their hands.

Last week an Israeli foreign ministry source close to the talks said PLO officials were seeking to create "the illusion of progress" as a means of mitigating pressure from the EU, which is opposed to unilateral moves by either side.

At the same time, PLO officials adopted, in December, "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."

They have also threatened to downgrade all economic and security agreements with Israel while moving to induct Hamas and its terror confederates into the PLO.

Israeli officials maintain they are ready to resume talks without preconditions from either side "anytime, anywhere".