Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu el-Gheit, stated that he does not believe that Palestinians will be back to the negotiations table due to Israel’s refusal to halt its settlement activities in the occupied territories. His statements came during an interview with the al-Arabiyya Satellite News Agency.
“I do not feel optimistic despite international efforts”, he said.
The Egyptian FM also said that the Arab Foreign Ministers will be holding a meeting next Monday to discuss the future of the talks especially since they were halted even before they actually started.
He added that the Arab leaders will discuss this file with the U.S. administration after the urgent Arab summit which will be held in Libya.
Arab leaders will also discuss transferring the file to the Security Council due to the lack of progress and resulting from Israel’s resumption of settlement activities.
As for the Palestinian reconciliation file, Abu el-Gheit said that the Palestinian factions, especially Fatah and Hamas, must achieve reconciliation “otherwise, the whole cause will be lost”.
Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, called on the United States and the European Union to oblige Israel to halt all of its settlement activities, including in occupied Jerusalem, in order to give the peace process a chance to advance.
His statements came during a meeting with the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, and Christian Berger, representative of the European Union in Palestine.
Erekat said that the negotiations are the means, not the goal, and that the Israeli decision to resume settlement construction is considered a decision to stop the peace process.
“Settlements and peace cannot be held together”, Erekat said, “the two issues run in opposite directions, and cannot be paralleled”.
He also said that President Mahmoud Abbas stated during his meeting U.S President, Barack Obama, and during his meeting with European leaders, the UN, Russia and several other countries that the international community must oblige Israel to stop its settlement activities, and that “Israel is acting as if it above the law, an issue that pushes the region into more violence, extremism and more bloodshed”.
Erekat further stated that there cannot be any partial solutions to the issue of settlements as they violate international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
He called on all countries that never recognized Palestine to do so, and to recognize the Palestinian right to establish an independent state in the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.