Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's advisor Jamal Zakout blamed Israel for the standstill in peace talks on Saturday, and called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declaration of a settlement construction freeze "phony".
Zakout, who participated in a ceremony honoring the founder of the Arab Democratic Party (Mada) Abdulwahab Darawshe in the northern village of Yafia said, "The dead end we have reached in negotiations with the Israelis is due to the phony policies of a partial construction freeze in settlements. We demand a comprehensive halt to construction, and this includes Jerusalem as well."
The advisor attended the ceremony in place of Fayyad, who he said canceled his participation due to "Israel's criminal activity in Nablus."
He said the incident, in which three Palestinians believed to be involved in a lethal shooting attack in the West Bank on Thursday were killed, was Israel's attempt to destabilize the Palestinian Authority. "Instead of talking about peace, they entered Nablus today.
"We believe that Israel, through this act, wants to undermine the stability and security the PA has managed to instill. The Israeli government must take responsibility and end the settlers' terrorist attacks against our people."
Zakout urged the international community to force Israel to enter with the Palestinians "serious talks that would lead to an end to the occupation." Addressing his audience he said, "We will not agree to peace at the expense of the Israeli Arabs and there will be no concessions, not on the right of return and not on our capital, Jerusalem."
Regarding negotiations towards a prisoner exchange deal that would secure the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Zakout accused Israel of delaying the process. "Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) has said it a number of times, he supports and wants the deal to be executed, because the freedom of any prisoner is an achievement. It's time that Israel stops its arrests of our people," Zakout said.
Former MK Yossi Beilin, a friend of Darawshe, also attended the ceremony, as did Darawshe's successor MK Talab El-Sana of the United Arab List-Ta'al, who took the stage to urge insubordination in the military.
"I call on the Israeli soldiers to refuse orders, and not serve this right-wing government's interests, to avoid being persecuted as war criminals," El-Sana said, adding, "The Left and peace parties in Israel have disappeared, Labor has become a guise for the Right to commit its crimes, and Likud's attempt to take over Kadima leads to more racism and hate and drives peace away."
Egypt's Ambassador to Israel, Yasser Rida also attended the event and said his country "believes in peace more than ever." Rida expressed hopes that "the Palestinian ambassador will be among the participants" in his next visit to the area.