Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that it will not take part in U.S. brokered peace negotiations with Israel beyond April. The United States has been attempting to extend peace talks beyond its April deadline after nine months of talks.
Erekat told AFP that “There is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law.”
Last week, Army Radio reported that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded from the Israeli government an un-official freeze on settlement construction. Halting construction would be, as Kerry views it, a sign of good faith to the Palestinians of Israel’s stance regarding peace.
An anonymous source in the Israeli government confirmed this week that the government has indeed unofficially called a freeze on construction in Jewish settlement and East Jerusalem communities.
The secretary has made 11 trips to the region since last July in an attempt to open a new round of talks.
Erekat’s comments come at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would become more directly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The New York Times reported that the president will appeal directly to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to final agreements over a peace framework.
A U.S. official, on condition of anonymity, told the Times, “Now is a very timely opportunity for him [Obama] to get involved. The president wouldn’t want to run any risk that it was the lack of his involvement that would make the difference between success and failure.”
Last week in Paris, in a meeting between Abbas and Kerry, Abbas reportedly described Kerry’s framework agreement as utter “insanity.” According to the Palestinian daily Al Quds, Abbas threatened Kerry that he would “overturn tables” and go back to a much more hard-line approach to peace negotiations.