Erekat Slams Israel Over Judea and Samaria Construction
Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator, slammed Israel on Thursday over its approval of more than 800 new housing units in Judea and Samaria.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Erekat said Israel's latest announcements were an indication of "Israel's bad faith and lack of seriousness" in the talks, according to the Associated Press.
The letter was sent Thursday, according to the report, the same day that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will resume next week and will be held in Jerusalem, followed by another meeting held in Jericho.
In his letter, reported AP, Erekat urged Kerry to "take the necessary action to ensure that Israel does not advance any of its settlement plans, and abides by its legal obligations and commitments."
He said that the PA sees the move as direct defiance of the U.S. role in facilitating negotiations. Erekat said that it is difficult to see how peace talks can move forward while “settlements” expand.
Earlier Thursday, Psaki indicated that the U.S. was against Israeli approval of new Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.
"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and opposes any efforts to legitimize settlement outpost," she told reporters, adding that Washington had taken up the issue with the Israelis.
"The Secretary has made clear that he believes both the negotiating teams are at the table in good faith and are committed to making progress," said Psaki.
Israel did not promise to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria during the current round of peace talks. In fact, Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom revealed this week that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was prepared to offer the PA a building freeze in Judea and Samaria but the PA rejected that offer, opting instead to demand that Israel release imprisoned terrorists.