Erekat: Israel Systemically Makes Effort to Spoil Talks
The chief Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator on Sunday once again accused Israel of taking “actions against the Palestinian people” that indicate that it has “chosen settlers over peace.”
Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, made the remarks during separate meetings with Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn, UN envoy Robert Serry and U.S. peace envoy Martin Indyk, according to the Ma’an news agency.
Last week, Erekat declared that Israel would have to choose between “settlements” and peace.
In his remarks on Sunday, reported Ma’an, he brought up Israel’s recent approval of new construction in Judea and Samaria and Saturday’s incident in which IDF troops raided Jenin to capture wanted terrorists, killing two Hamas members.
Erekat said that these practices, as well as what he called “the repeated raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound”, constitute a "systemic" effort to foil international efforts to implement a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
The peace talks between the PA and Israel restarted this past July after a push by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. However, little progress has been made and there appear to be wide rifts between the sides.
Kerry, who has remained optimistic throughout the process, is now trying to get the sides to extend the talks beyond an April deadline which he has already admitted would not be enough to secure a final deal.
On Sunday it was reported that Kerry was considering various “creative” ideas to get the sides to continue the talks, one of them being the release of Jonathan Pollard.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has come under pressure from his ministers to cancel the upcoming release of the final batch of 26 terrorists that Israel agreed to release as a “gesture” to the PA.
Erekat stated earlier this month that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases, prompting Israeli officials to reconsider completing the deal, fearing that once the final batch is released, Abbas would stop the talks and go to the United Nations to seek unilateral approval of a Palestinian state.