Palestinian Authority (PA) Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat has declared that the PA will not agree to extending peace talks even a day beyond the nine-month framework. Talks began last July and are set to expire in April.
The topic of extending talks was never raised or agreed upon, Erekat told the Bethlehem-based Arab Maan News Agency. "We renewed the talks on terms defined in advance and in a clear manner, for a period of nine months," remarked Erekat.
The negotiator denied claims that talks are occurring in Washington through secret channels, saying "they talk about secret talks in Washington, and here I am in Jericho. It's a complete lie."
Erekat's position falls in line with a statement by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday, in a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu, that "it was stipulated that (talks) run for nine months and there were no talks about extending them."
Abbas declared Sunday that the peace talks were making no progress, and claimed "the problem is with the Israeli side and not with us." He also reaffirmed his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Erekat has said in the past that with the failure of talks, the PA will turn to the UN unilaterally in pursuit of international recognition. Meanwhile for his part, US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly intends to spur full international boycotts against Israel if talks fail.
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett remarked Monday that "recently we've seen a lot of economic pressure on Israel, pressure which is escalating and pushing the State of Israel to divide our land and give it away - or suffer economic consequences. But I say the opposite is true: dividing the Land of Israel would crush the Israeli economy."