PA Says 'Radical Change' Needed in Approach to Talks
The Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Thursday that a “radical change” was required in the approach to the talks with Israel, in the wake of Israel’s decision to cancel the fourth release of terrorists.
"Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed," Yasser Abed Rabbo, general secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, told AFP.
"That is why conditions for future negotiations must change radically," he added.
Earlier Thursday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that the fourth release of terrorists was cancelled because the PA had violated the conditions of the peace talks by unilaterally turning to the United Nations and requesting to join 15 international conventions.
"New conditions have been created, and Israel cannot free the prisoners of the fourth batch," announced Livni.
The impasse in the talks deals a blow to efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been trying to broker a peace deal between the sides.
On Thursday, Kerry admitted there is little he can do to salvage the disintegrating talks, challenging Israeli and PA leaders and saying that now was the time when they had to choose whether to make peace.
"You can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions to compromise," he said.
Officials later told AFP that Kerry spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but gave no details.
Meanwhile, the PA has imposed seven new conditions on peace with Israel. According to chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, these conditions are:
1. A written letter from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in which he gives a commitment that the Palestinian state will be established and that its capital will be eastern Jerusalem.
2. The release of 1,200 terrorists, which the PA says was agreed upon when Ehud Olmert was prime minister. These include multiple-murderer Marwan Barghouti, PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat, and Fuad al-Shubaki, who was responsible for the attempt to smuggle a huge amount of arms into Gaza on board the Karine A.
3. Implementation of the agreement on checkpoints and removal of the siege on Gaza.
4. The return of the Church of Nativity expellees.
The IDF besieged the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem April 2 to May 10, 2002, as part of Operation Defensive Shield, after 39 terrorists had holed up there. The terrorists took shelter in the famous church, and used about 40 priests and nuns as a shield, knowing Israel would not take a chance on inadvertently hurting priests and nuns. The siege was ended through an agreement that involved exiling the terrorists to other countries.
5. The granting of full Israeli citizenship to 15,000 Palestinian Arabs in a process of family reunification.
6. A halt to construction in eastern Jerusalem and the reopening of PA institutions there which have been closed down by Israel.
7. No more entry by IDF forces into areas under PA control, no more arrests and eliminations, and the handing over of Area C to PA control.
Responding to Erekat, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett wrote on his Facebook page, “You wanted a commitment? Here it is: Eastern Jerusalem will never be your capital.”