Netanyahu: PA Has No Interest in Peace
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu charges that officials in Ramallah have no intention of making peace with Israel.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/16/2012, 10:02 PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said PA officials "have no interest in restarting peace negotiations."
"For the last three years, the Palestinians have refused to enter negotiations, thinking they could impose preconditions upon us," Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers in a closed parliamentary meeting.
"The Palestinian have no interest in entering peace talks. I'm ready to travel now to Ramallah to start peace talks with Abu Mazen, without preconditions. But the simple truth is that Abu Mazen is not ready," he said. Abu Mazen means 'the father of Mazen', Abbas' late first born son, in line with the Arab custom of kunya, deriving a father's name from the name of his son, usually the first born.
Netanyahu's comments came on the heels of PA officials refusing to continue the current round of talks past January 26 without Israel accepting a laundry list of preconditions Israeli officials say serve as a fait accompli to scuttle the talks.
Abbas says the Palestinians will not resume talks unless Israel first releases all Arab terrorists held in Israeli prisons, agrees to the pre-1967 lines as borders for a future PA state, and freezes construction in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu, however, has said he is willing to begin negotiations without preconditions from either side "anywhere, anytime."
Israeli and PA negotiators began meeting in Jordan Jan. 3 in an attempt to find a formula to restart formal negotiations - which have been stalled for three years.
The talks in Jordan are taking place under the auspices of the Quartet for Middle East Peace, which is pushing for a final status agreement by the end of this year.
In October, the Quartet -- the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States -- asked the two sides to produce proposals on territory and security within three months.
PA officials insist the deadline is January 26, while Israel considers that three-month period to have begun when the talks resumed on January 3 - just two weeks ago.
In Knesset testimony on Monday, Netanyahu accused the PA of violating that agreement. He did not elaborate, but Israeli sources close to the talks say PA officials are cynically using the current round of talks to "create the illusion of progress" while not intending to make a deal.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed Netanyahu's comments as a "baseless attack."
Erekat said, "The Quartet representatives and the Jordanian side know very well what is happening."
In December 2012, just weeks before the current round of talks began, PLO officials publicly adopted a "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and UN full membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."