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      Erekat Fumes Over Latest Israeli Construction Approval

      New construction in Givat Ze'ev proves Israel doesn't want peace, claims chief PA negotiator.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 1/22/2014, 4:42 AM

      Saeb Erekat
      Saeb Erekat
      Reuters

      The Palestinian Authority (PA) accused Israel on Tuesday that it did not want peace, after the leftist Peace Now organization revealed that the Israeli government had approved plans to build 381 new homes in Givat Ze'ev, Samaria, located just five kilometers north of Jerusalem.

      The PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, responded by telling the AFP news agency that the construction approval sent a clear message.

      "Netanyahu's government does not want peace," he told the news agency.

      Tuesday’s approvals come after Israel approved plans for 272 new homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria on January 6, and followed up on January 10 with the unveiling of plans to build more than 1,800 new units in these areas.

      The PA had slammed that construction as well, as it has done every time Israel announces new construction in areas it wants for a future state.

      PA officials continue to denounce Israel’s planned construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was informed in advance that Israel will continue to build as peace talks continue. The areas in which Israel plans to build are areas that even the PA has previously accepted will be part of Israel in a future deal.

      With very little progress visible and the April deadline for a framework agreement looming, Erakat said there was no chance the PA would contemplate any extension of the talks.

      "We've not been presented with a (plan for) extending negotiations, but we will not extend them for even an additional day after the nine-month period we agreed on," he told AFP.

      "There are still three months left, which Israel can use to move with us towards a peace agreement, but its actions confirm that it's not interested in this. It's destroying everything that might help a comprehensive peace agreement," he charged.

      PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned last Friday against Israel using peace talks as a "cover" to “expand settlements” in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.

      The U.S.-brokered peace talks must "not serve as a cover for the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories," said Abbas.

      "There can be no peace without stability, nor agreement without occupied east Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of the Palestinian state," he declared.

      Abbas followed up on these comments by telling visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday that there will be no official Israeli presence in the future Palestinian state.

      The European Union (EU) last week responded to Israel’s new construction announcements by summoning Israeli ambassadors in London, Rome and Paris.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu subsequently slammed the European Union for summoning the envoys.

      "This is hypocrisy. The EU calls our ambassadors in because of the construction of a few houses? When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel's destruction?" Netanyahu said.

      Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman responded to the EU’s move by summoning ambassadors over the EU’s continued support of - and bias for - the PA.