The chief Palestinian peace negotiator said the Palestinians are ready to extend the current talks with Israel
beyond an April deadline – if there is a framework agreement in place.
The comments by Saeb Erekat mark
the first time the Palestinians have endorsed the US idea of seeking a preliminary – not final – peace deal.
Erekat said that the Palestinians realize that a final agreement could not be reached by the end of the allotted nine months, thereby agreeing to extend the talks.
According to him, the framework agreement would define borders, land swaps, security coordination, and the issue of refugees.
The Palestinian negotiator expressed his gratitude to US Secretary of State Kerry for his efforts to promote the peace talks.
Regarding talks with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Wednesday: "I can't promise that an agreement will be reached. It depens on the other side as well.
"I can commit to one thing – if an agreement is reached it will be brought to the Knesset and subjected to a referendum. I've made that commitment. We will not make such a decision without all-round agreement."
Speaking at a Likud
conference, the prime minister added that despite international pressure, "me and my colleagues stand firm and when needed repeatedly bang on the table and never stop trying to convince the world. When it comes to critical issues we never compromise."
Under US-pressure, Israel and the Palestinians resumed negotiations
last summer, agreeing to talk for nine months with the goal of a permanent peace agreement. With little progress so far, the Americans are now setting their sights on a preliminary deal.
Erekat said Wednesday that the framework would have to be a "detailed skeleton" addressing all core issues. If that is reached, he said talks
could continue for several more months to complete the deal.
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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