Director of the Negotiations Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Sa’eb Ereikat said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority may collapse if a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is not achieved by the end of 2008.Ereikat, told reporters that the failure of peace talks may also effect the entire region.

‘If we fail to conclude an agreement by the end of 2008, we will vanish,’ he was quoted as saying.

He added ‘The repercussions of such a failure will not be confined to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but they will also impact the entire region’.

The Palestinian negotiator admitted that the popular support for President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, has been eroded because of what he termed ‘ stalemate of the peace process’.

‘The people have increasingly become disappointed over our inability to practice what we have been preaching’, Eriqat went onto saying.

He considered Israel’s reluctance to freeze settlements building and expansion or removing hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks throughout the West Bank, as ‘damaging’ to President Abbas’s credibility in the eyes of Palestinians.

‘We would like to tell the Palestinians that 2008 will be a year of peace but we can not remove checkpoints or halt settlement activities’.

Erikat’s tone comes in the backdrop of recent Israeli plans for building new settlement housing units in the occupied east Jerusalem, the Palestinians want as their future capital.

During the Annpolis conference In November 2007, Washington revived the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process on the basis of a two-state solution, to be concluded before Gorge W. Bush’s term in office comes to an end by January 2009.