PA Rejects Deadline Extension for Talks

PLO negotiators have rejected a suggestion by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that a deadline for talks to begin be extended.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority on Monday rejected a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the deadline for peace negotiations to start set by the Mideast Quartet.

"Time extension is useless. Israel doesn't appear to be serious, so time extension will not add any value to the status quo," Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisan told Gulf News.

"We are sticking to the 26 deadline and once it passes we will confer with our Arab brothers on the next course of action," he added.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he believed the timeframe for negotiations should be extended to April 3, three months after Israelis and Palestinians sat down for their first face to face meeting in Amman on January 3.

The original deadline set by the quartet to start negotiations was January 26.

Muhaisan's charges come despite senior PLO official Tayseer Khaled saying last Friday that Israel was willing to cede as much as 94% of Judea and Samaria in exchange for the core settlement blocks and eastern Jerusalem.

Despite this, the recent round of so-called exploratory meetings between PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Netanyahu envoy Yikzhak Molho have been derided as a failure by both sides.

Erekat threatened to terminate talks unless Israel initiated a second construction freeze saying "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."

Israeli officials have charged the PLO has used the recent face-to-face meetings to create the "illusion of progress" while continuing to pile on preconditions that serve as a fait accompli to scuttle talks.

The PLO in December adopted "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.

Netanyahu has said Israel is ready to negotiate without preconditions from either side "anywhere, anytime."

He has also categorically ruled out a building freeze noting a previous 10-month moratorium on construction in Judea and Samaria aimed at bringing the PLO to the table was rebuffed and met with more preconditions.