Palestinians rule out extending peace talks
RAMALLAH – Agence France-Presse
In this file photo an Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Palestine ruled out extending talks. AP photoPalestinian leaders have ruled out the possibility of extending peace talks with Israel beyond their nine-month timeframe, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said Dec. 23.
“We turn down any extension,” Erakat told the official Voice of Palestine radio station, adding that some of his recent remarks about the matter had been misinterpreted. “I said that if we reach an agreement on all final status issues, we could continue to discuss the details,” he said.
At a dinner with journalists last week, Erakat had raised the possibility of talks being prolonged for up to a year if parties agree on key issues by the time the current talks wrap up on April 29. The U.S. State Department welcomed his statement, while saying the nine-month schedule still remained in place.
At an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Dec. 21, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “stressed his rejection of all partial and temporary solutions and that the solution should resolve all final status issues, within nine months which cannot be extended, expiring April 29,” said Erakat.
During this meeting, the pan-Arab bloc gave “its full support to the Palestinian position,” the Palestinian negotiator told the radio station on the phone from Qatar. Outgoing Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week that the talks “are not going to take us anywhere.”
“The Israelis want to replace occupation by force with occupation by an invitation, with our signature, and it will never happen,” he added, calling on the international community to intensify pressure on Israel. Palestinian negotiators have repeatedly warned it would be impossible to continue talks if Israel keeps on demolishing Palestinian homes and constructing settlements.