Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian side would be willing to give the US a few more weeks to convince Israel to stop settlement expansion. The statement was made after an US official told Erekat that they may not be able to make the November 9th deadline, set by the Arab League for the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to rescind a partial suspension of settlement expansion, and allow for massive building of settlements on Palestinian land starting in late September, led to Washington-sponsored ‘peace talks’ being put on hold.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama said that he still believes in the peace process. However, Palestinians, faced with daily violence of the Israeli occupation and the ongoing expansion of Jewish-only settlements, overwhelmingly feel that the ‘peace process’ will lead nowhere with regards to recognition of their rights.
On Thursday, Erekat met with US Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell, then spoke with reporters in Washington DC, where he said: ‘They’re saying that efforts may need two or three more weeks….If the Americans needed two more weeks they can have the two more weeks”, adding, “[t]here is no reason to convene the Arab follow-up committee until we hear what the Americans have to offer.’
In his press statement, Erekat made clear that the next step as far as the ‘peace talks’ are concerned is up to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, since the Palestinian core demand has not changed. The Palestinians, he said, will resume peace talks if Israel stops the expansion of settlements onto Palestinian land.
To the assertion by a growing number of Palestinians and Israelis that the ‘two-state solution’ is dead, and only one state on the land of historic Palestine with equal rights for all its citizens could bring peace, Erekat responded, ‘Those who continue with the settlement activities may end up with the one state solution, whether they like it or not. But that’s not my option.”