Ahead of resumed Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat, called yesterday on the European Union to pressurize the Israeli government to halt the military escalation and expansion of settlements.

Eriqart’s remarks came ahead of negotiations between the two sides, expected to resume this week, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held them off temporarily following a Israeli deadly attack on Gaza, early this month.

The Palestinian negotiator told representatives of the EU to the Palestinian Authority that Israel’s rhetoric as a state ‘above law’, will help fail all peace-making efforts to realize peace by the end of 2008.

He wondered as to how the Quartet committee, of which the EU is a member, allows continuation of such an Israeli policy, which is ‘aimed at creating a de-facto situatio’, particularly with respect to the occupied east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their future capital.

Eriqat maintained that the underway settlements expansion, the continued construction of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank as well as the ongoing closure of Palestinian offices in Jerusalem, should be taken into account by the EU.

Washington revived last November Palestinian-Israeli peace process on basis of a two sate solution by end of 2008, yet no concrete progress has been made as Israel has recently declared plans for new settlements expansion on occupied Palestinian lands.