PLO Official: Peace Negotiators Didn't Resign

Senior PLO official denies reports that peace negotiators have resigned over Israel's "settlement construction."

Elad Benari, Canada,

Saeb Erakat
Saeb Erakat

A senior official in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) denied on Friday reports that peace negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh had submitted their resignation to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef told the Ma'an news agency that reports of the negotiators resigning were not accurate.

On Thursday, sources told Ma'an that Erekat and Shtayyeh had presented their resignation to Abbas, supposedly because of Israel's recent announcement that it would promote 1,500 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, often erroneously described by anti-Israeli media as an "illegal settlement in east Jerusalem".

Informed sources had said that the resignation came in protest of Israel's “non-compliance” with the PA’s demands.

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki told Ma'an that an emergency meeting had been called for next Saturday to "discuss the developments."

A United States government official said Friday that PA officials informed the U.S. of their commitment to negotiations with Israel for the agreed upon timetable of nine months.

The PA has been critical of Israel’s announcement that it plans to build in Ramat Shlomo. On Wednesday, a spokesman for Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said Israel’s move "destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law."

Plans to build the homes in Ramat Shlomo were made public almost immediately after Israel freed 26 terrorist murderers as a “gesture” to Abbas in order to continue the renewed peace talks.

The PA was informed prior to the latest round of talks that Israel will continue to build in areas which even the PA has accepted in previous negotiations will be within Israeli borders. Nevertheless, Palestinian Authority officials and their supporters have expressed outrage at Israeli plans to build.

Responding on Thursday night to reports of the PA team’s resignation, a senior Israeli official said the PA was putting on “a show” in advance of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the region next week.

"The Secretary of State will land in the region next week and the Palestinian Authority is trying to pressure Israel into additional gestures," the official said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)