Erekat: Low Expectations for PA-Israel Negotiations
Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s negotiating team in peace talks with Israel, has stated that he has very little hopes for the sucess of talks and has accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of trying to expel Arabs from PA lands.
A Palestinian news agency has reported that in an address to students of Arab American University in Jenin, Erekat claimed that Israel's agreement to release convicted terrorists back into civilian areas in exchange for more buildings in Judea and Samaria was "totally groundless" and a "falsehood."
The remarks follow reports that both Abbas and Kerry knew of the arrangement in advance. Netanyahu has accused PA officials of turning the talks into a media circus, in a desperate ploy to gain more international aid and sympathy.
Erekat claimed that the Netanyahu government's strategy towards the Palestinian Authority is based on 3 principles: completely emptying the Palestinian Authority of its Arab residents, causing total separation and disunity between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Fatah-controlled PA territories, and continuing to "occupy" PA lands.
"We do not expect that negotiations with Netanyahu will lead us to independence and self-determination, but we will operate at the utmost to take by force our rights as we did on November 29, 2012 when the United Nations and the world recognized Palestine within 1967 borders," Erekat stated.
Erekat's team sent their resignations to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last month in protest of Israel's announcement to continue building in Jewish areas. Abbas has yet to accept the resignations.
Late last week, PLO senior official Nabil Shaath claimed that the PA continues to participate in negotiations specifically to release more terrorists, but also that the team will quit in the event that Israel continues to build more Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive this week to resume the talks, which have so far been a diplomatic disaster for all parties involved.