PA: Netanyahu deceiving world with building freeze
Secretary-general of PLO's Executive Committee says prime minister's announcement on 10-month settlement construction halt was a show, 'as plan does not include Jerusalem, which is a red line as far as the Palestinians and the Arab world are concerned'
Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, told a press conference in Ramallah that there was nothing new in Netanyahu's statement.
"It was a political manipulation aimed at bypassing the international stand which rejects the settlements and supports the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders."
The security cabinet on Wednesday evening approved Netanyahu's proposal to halt construction in the West Bank settlements for a period of 10 months.
Eleven ministers voted in favor of the plan, while Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau opposed the initiative, which was coordinated with the US in an effort to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Netanyahu stressed that the settlement freeze would not be implemented in east Jerusalem. "We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital," the prime minister said.
According to Abed Rabbo, Israel is playing for time. "What Netanyahu did yesterday was a show, as the plan does not include Jerusalem, which is a red line as far as we and the Arab world are concerned. His remark that the plan does not include the construction of 3,000 housing units show that nothing has changed and that the settlements continue."
'Opportunity to save peace process'
The Palestinian official said the PA values the American administration's stand, which states that the negotiations must only be resumed based on clear foundations.
"The Americans understand that the Road Map and a halt to settlements are the foundation for resuming the negotiations. President (Mahmoud) Abbas insists on these foundations before any possibility of resuming the talks, and we have made this clear in every possible forum."
Abed Rabbo stressed that as far as the Palestinians are concerned, there are two conditions for resuming the negotiations: A complete stop to all settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and an agreement of both sides that the border lines are the 1967 lines and that any change should be acceptable to both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian.
"I believe that the opportunity is still open to save the peace process from the small Israeli games and shows aimed at misleading and deceiving the global public opinion," he concluded.