Ramallah, 14 Jumadil Awwal 1434/25 March 2013 (MINA) – Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says that his government will not accept a “partial” Israeli settlement freeze as a conciliatory move to restart peace talks.
“Absolutely not. It is rejected,” Saeb Erekat said on Sunday (24/3) when asked if President Mahmoud Abbas would accept a partial freeze on Israel’s settlement activity, according to Press TV reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“First of all, 90 percent of the building in settlements is going on in the blocs,” he said. “If we accepted that, we would be committing two crimes. The first is legalizing what is illegal, which is settlement construction, and the second is accepting the Israeli policy (of) dictation,” he added.
Direct talks between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian were stalled around three weeks after they had resumed in the US in September 2010 due to Tel Aviv’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on its illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.
On Thursday, Abbas told visiting US President Barack Obama that there could be no talks with Israel without a freeze on settlement construction.
He also described Israeli settlement activities as a major obstacle to peace between the two sides, saying that “we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, and to be something that can advance the cause of peace”.
During his visit, Obama said the Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of the West Bank must end and that he is “deeply committed” to the creation of a state of Palestine.
The US president however, called on Palestinians to drop their demands for a freeze in Israeli settlement activities in occupied territories as a precondition for resumption of the talks.
The Israeli settlements are considered illegal by much of the international community. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the settlement construction is part of Tel Aviv’s policy and will not stop. (T/P01/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)