Hamas and 10 Damascus-based Palestinian organizations declared they oppose the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday. The Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front – General Command and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine were among the groups represented in the statement.
"The Palestinian refusal movements confirm their objection to direct or indirect talks and warn against the dangerous consequences of a policy which undermines national Palestinian rights. Return to direct negotiations is capitulation to the demands of the US and the Zionists, who seek to abolish these rights," the joint statement read.
The groups criticized US policy, which they claimed seeks to "mask Israel's plan to expand the settlements, Judaise the land, gain control of Jerusalem and maintain the Gaza Strip blockade."
Meanwhile, Israel continues to promote direct talks together with the Quartet and moderate Arab states.
Palestinian representatives convene in Damascus (Photo: AP)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egypt's and Jordan's foreign ministers over the weekend in an effort to promote agreements between the parties prior to a Quartet statement to be issued later this week.
The main bone of contention between Israel and the Palestinians is the question of pre-conditions to the negotiations. While Israel submits there should be no pre-conditions, the Palestinians are adamant that there should be an immediate and full settlement construction freeze in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israeli state officials expressed concern on Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans on stalling direct talks until the construction freeze will no longer be in effect, on September 26.
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