Akunis: Arrogant PA Wants to Break Off Talks After Releases

The Palestinian Authority is looking for any excuse to withdraw from negotiations with Israel, MK Ofir Akunis said Monday

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David Lev,

MK Ofer Akunis
MK Ofer Akunis
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority is looking for any excuse to withdraw from negotiations with Israel, because if they continue to participate in the U.S.-sponsored negotiations, they are going to have to make compromises – something they are loathe to do, said MK Ofir Akunis, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Last week, PA chief negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh said they had submitted their resignation to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The two had been the PA's representatives to the talks, which are taking place at secret locations in Israel. Representing Israel in the talks is Justice Minister Tzippy Livni.

Erekat and Shtayyeh said that they were resigning after an Israeli announcement that new homes would be built in Judea and Samaria. But on Sunday, but a a PA spokesperson telling the Ma'an news agency that reports of the negotiators resigning were not accurate.

The entire incident is just another example of PA “double talk,” Akunis said in the Knesset Monday evening. Israel, he said, had agreed to free terrorists as its “gesture” to encourage the PA to join the talks. Israel had never agreed to a building freeze. “We do not need anyone's permission to build in our land,” Akunis said. “We have built, we are building, and we will build in all parts of Israel.”

What really angers him, Akunis said, was that the PA was now looking for ways to pullout of the talks, after most of the terrorists it had demanded be released have been sent home. “It is the height of arrogance for them to be trying to break up the talks after these detestable terrorists have been released, he said.

Speaking Sunday, Minister Yuval Steinitz said “the talks with the Palestinians were conducted according to the parameters that had been agreed upon in advance,” he said. “One of those parameters was that there would be no limit on Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria at all. I was with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when this issue came up in the pre-negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke on behalf of the Palestinians, and all agreed to this stipulation,” he said.

“It was clear to everyone that building plans would be announced from time to time,” he added. “Any complaints the Palestinians have about this now are out of place, as their demands violate the understandings that led to the talks.”