Chief Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Erekat stated Sunday that he is pressuring Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to leave the ongoing negotiations process with Israel.
Erekat stressed in an IDF Radio interview that Abbas could still leave the negotiating table - but that he is waiting for Israel to release more Palestinian Arab terrorists first.
"We put pressure on him to leave and he said, 'I will not do that until Israel finishes releasing prisoners for the fourth time, at the end of March," Erekat stated.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) responded on the air later Sunday that in light of Erekat's words, the government should consider delaying the fourth terrorist release - at least until Israel can receive clarification from Abbas regarding his intent to stay in the negotiating process.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused the PA of stubbornness regarding an interim agreement, noting that the likelihood of reaching a peace deal seems - at the moment - highly improbable.
"Let us see if the Palestinians will be willing to engage in negotiations at all [over an interim framework agreement]," Netanyahu noted, in an interview with Channel 2. "From what I see at the moment, they have distanced themselves from it very, very much."
"They think they can go back down their recalcitrant path, go to making unrealistic demands and go to the United Nations, and basically keep themselves from asking the question of where they can concede, they can accept the Jewish state, give up the 'Right of Return' - and end the conflict," the Prime Minister added.
The PA has repeatedly refused to make concessions to Israel's side of demands in the negotiations, especially the basic demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.The PA has already formally stated that "the Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state." PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reiterated this position on Friday, when he told young members of his Fatah movement that “there is no way” he would recognize Israel.
While Israel has remained adamant that such a concession is necessary for a peace agreement, the US stated Sunday that it would not demand that the PA recognize Israel as part of its framework for peace.