Abbas (R) and Biden in Ramallah, Wednesday
Photo: AP

PA says won't return to talks 'under current circumstances'

Senior Palestinian Authority officials say that without clear Israeli commitment to US to impose total construction freeze – including in east Jerusalem – indirect talks will not be renewed. PA official to Ynet: Israel chose to humiliate Palestinians, international community with this move

Officials who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas within the last day spoke with Ynet in terms of "utter despair," saying that a somber atmosphere hung over the president's office.


This comes after Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa declared Wednesday night at the end of an emergency session held in Cairo that the Palestinian president notified him that he does not intend to enter indirect talks with Israel.


"The Palestinians president decided not to enter these talks at this time," said Moussa in a press conference held after he spoke with Abbas via telephone. "The Palestinian side is not willing to hold negotiations under the current circumstances."


Following Moussa's announcement, Reuters news agency reported that the talks have already been ceased.


Senior Palestinian Authority officials said that there was an atmosphere of shock and outrage over Israel's new construction plan for east Jerusalem. According to them, despite the continued efforts to enter confidence-building talks, "Israel chose to humiliate the Palestinians and the international community with this move."


A senior Palestinian official told Ynet, "The PA would prefer not to enter these talks at all, but Arab and international pressure alongside a genuine desire to jumpstart these issues lead us to the decision."


"However, Israel being Israel chose to prove just how incorrect the decision was," said the senior official.


The PA has said that absent a clear commitment to the US on Israel's part to freeze all construction, including in east Jerusalem, indirect talks will not be resumed.


Head of the National Information Directorate Nir Hefetz said in response, "The prime minister spoke with Vice President Biden and expressed his regret over the unsuccessful timing. Netanyahu updated Biden that the project in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood underwent a number of planning stages in the past few years and that the final planning go-ahead will apparently only be given in more than a year and that the actual building will likely start only in another few years."


In this context, many people will be looking to US Vice President Joe Biden's speech at Tel Aviv University on Thursday. It will be Biden's last public appearance in Israel before continuing on to Amman, Jordan. From there, he will return to the US.


Biden harshly criticized Israel's recent decision to authorize 1,600 new housing units in east Jerusalem.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 03.11.10, 09:50
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