Erekat: Israel holds key to resuming talks
Published yesterday 30 September 2010 19:56
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The chief PLO negotiator says Israel can restart peace
negotiations by freezing settlements.
Saeb Erekat said Thursday that the PLO had repeatedly demanded that Israel
stop housing construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, including
so-called natural growth, to give the peace process "the opportunity it
"We are not opposed to continuing direct talks. Israel is the one which
holds the key to resuming these talks," Erekat told reporters in Ramallah
following a meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and US envoy George
Erekat said Abbas' stance is clear and that it was expressed in written
letters to US President Barack Obama as well as the EU, Russia, and UN.
He praised the US administration for its efforts, but said he hoped it and
the international community would commit Israel to fulfilling its previously
signed agreements such as halting settlement expansion.
Mitchell said Obama's vision of a permanent solution in the Mideast would
include two states living side by side in peace and prosperity.
"We realize that there are many obstacles in front of the peace process,
among them those who want it to fail and use violence to prevent its
success," Mitchell said. "We are determined to continue to find common
ground between the parties to continue with the direct talks in a way which
we hope will lead to an agreement."
Israel's return to building settlements in the occupied territories has cast
the future of peace talks into question following a brief return to
negotiations after a 20-month hiatus sparked by Israel's assault on Gaza in
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was scheduled to meet with Mitchell
shortly after her arrival to the region on Thursday and speak with Abbas the
day after. Informed sources told Ma'an that Abbas would sit with Mitchell
for a second set of discussions Friday.
Palestinian leaders have made clear in public that they will not compromise
on demands, made even before talks began on 2 September, that continued
settlement construction on lands intended for a Palestinian state under a
two-state solution would not be acceptable.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped talks would
continue, he has not agreed to halt construction despite reports that the US
offered the reported package of incentives to get the peace process back on
track. Netanyahu met with Mitchell on Wednesday.
Abbas said he would discuss continuing talks at an Arab League meeting next