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Saeb Erekat Photo: AFP
Saeb Erekat Photo: AFP
 
 

US: Saeb Erekat's comments against Israel harmful to negotiations

American officials upset over chief Palestinian negotiator's recent remarks that the Palestinians will call for a global boycott of Israel if peace talks flounder.

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 02.20.14, 00:27 / Israel News

US government officials expressed concern over comments made by Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, who recently threatened to promote economic boycott on Israel.

 

 

"We are of course concerned about the recent comments by Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

 

US officials hinted that Kerry is to raise the issue of Erekat's comments during his meeting in Paris with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday. "We've said all along that it's important to create a positive atmosphere around these discussions. The personal attacks, quite frankly, are unhelpful, and the secretary will make clear that these kinds of comments are disappointing, that they are unhelpful, especially coming from someone involved in the negotiations, indeed the lead negotiator," Harf added.

 

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Earlier this week, the chief Palestinian negotiator said that if US-brokered peace talks fail to result in an accord, then the Palestinian will call for an economic boycott of Israel, in contradiction to conciliatory statements made by the Palestinian president before a group of Israeli students.

 

Saeb Erekat made the comments during an interview given to Al-Jazeera last Friday before an audience of hundreds of students at Britain's Oxford University.

 

"Turning to international tribunals, to UN bodies, and joining a call for economic sanctions - all that will come if Kerry's initiative fails," Erekat said when asked why the Palestinians do not petition the ICC and ICJ at this time.

 

According to Erekat, the Palestinians promised not to attempt to try Israel in international courts, and in return secured the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners. Therefore, he explained, no suits would be filed until the fourth and final round of prisoners are released.

 

Regarding the possibility of extending the nine-month timeframe set for the talks, Erekat said "We will not extend the negotiations for one minute beyond 29th April." Recent reports have claimed that Israel is currently working to extend the deadline.

 

When asked what would happen after the talks reach their April deadline, Erekat said that "the PA cannot sustain its current position."

 

In such a case, "If Kerry's negotiations fail, the (Palestinian Authority) will collapse. Netanyahu will have to take over (the West Bank) and this is going to be very ugly."

 

Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.

 

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