Erekat to Kerry: Save the Peace Process

PA negotiator urges Secretary of State to salvage peace talks, says Israeli "settlements" and "crimes" are to blame for lack of progress.

Elad Benari ,

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority’s top peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday to salvage American-brokered peace talks that both sides say are faltering.

As usual, however, Saeb Erekat placed the blame for the lack of progress on Israel.

"Mr. Kerry must work to save the talks, to work to stop the deterioration of the talks caused by Israel's continuing settlement activity and crimes committed in cold blood," Saeb Erekat said in a radio interview, according to Reuters.

The comments came ahead of Kerry’s latest visit to the region. He is scheduled to meet Israeli and PA leaders on Thursday to try and achieve progress in the talks.

State Department officials declared Wednesday that Kerry is planning on presenting a new security proposal regarding Judea and Samaria to Israel this week.

The officials said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will receive the proposal through John R. Allen, the former American commander in Afghanistan and a retired Marine general who serves as an adviser to Kerry on Middle Eastern affairs.

Erekat and his fellow PA envoy, Mohammed Shtayyeh, offered to resign last month in protest of Israel’s announcement of new building plans in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

"The last negotiations meeting took place on November 5 - there have been communications with the Israeli side since then, but I couldn't call them negotiations," Erekat said, according to Reuters.

Officials from both sides have said that the American sponsors of the talks may soon present a "bridging proposal" to bring the two sides closer together, although Erekat said he doubted that would happen on Thursday.

Shtayyeh said on Wednesday that a peace deal with Israel is impossible due to wide gaps between the two positions.

According to Shtayyeh major differences in the two sides "block any possibility of a peace deal." In late November, senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official Nabil Shaath revealed that the PA is only staying in the peace talks to release all 104 terrorist prisoners promised as a "gesture."

On Tuesday a senior EU official threatened the EU would take action against both Israel and the PA should talks fail. According to the official, the EU would cut its 300 million Euros ($407.7 million) annual aid to the PA, and revive its plan to label Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.