PA says direct talks doomed to fail
Authority officials claim US did not give any guarantees on continuation of settlement construction freeze, claim PA will look to UN next year for recognition of independent state. Settler leaders: Negotiations will expose Palestinians' true goal – Israel's annihilation
The Palestinian Authority said the direct peace negotiations will collapse if Israel resumes construction in the West Bank's settlements.
Palestinian sources told Ynet Saturday evening that if the direct talks are accompanied by an Israeli announcement on the resumption of settlement construction after the moratorium expires on September 26th, the image of the Authority and the (Palestinian Liberation Organization) PLO will suffer a devastating blow and the peace process will be significantly hindered.
According to the sources, American officials have claimed that even if Israel announces the resumption of construction, no new construction projects are expected in Jerusalem and West Bank communities located outside the settlement blocs. However, the sources said, Washington did not offer the PA any guarantees in this regard.
Israel has also denied claims that the US had promised the Palestinians that the settlement construction freeze would continue and that a Palestinian state would be established within the 1967 borders.
Despite Washington's announcement on the beginning of direct talks on September 2, Palestinian officials said the PLO has no intention of joining the negotiations before September 26.
"Negotiations might begin, but as far as we are concerned, their continuation, or at least their nature, will be determined by Israel's actions after September 26," a Palestinian source said. Israeli actions that would embarrass the PA or put it in a difficult position domestically would result in similar behavior on the part of the Palestinians and perhaps cause them to suspend the negotiations, according to the source.
It appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will negotiate directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The talks will cover the core issues, including the borders of a future Palestinian state, the Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem.
The PA does not believe the talks will have any concrete results, but hopes the process may bring it closer to the international community and perhaps lead the UN Security Council to recognize it as an independent state.
"We will try to avoid any confrontations so that by August of next year we will be able to put a Palestinian state, with its established institutions, on the UN Security Council and the world powers' agenda, so that for the first time in history they will accept their responsibility for the Palestinians," one official said.
Jewish settler leaders also do not believe that the negotiations will yield any results. "There is a chance that the Israelis will finally learn what our partner in these talks really wants," Shomron Settlers' Committee head Benny Katzover told Ynet.
"There is chance that their true goal – the annihilation of the Israeli state – will be revealed. It may be revealed in the clauses related to the core issues, such as the right of return and the desire to change Jerusalem's status," he said.
Katzover called the yearning for a peace process "a sort of false messiah of the Israeli Left, which unfortunately attracts some centrist and right-wing Israelis, including Netanyahu.
"We hope Netanyahu remembers where he came from and what his mission is in the face of intense international pressure urging him to sell the heart of the Jewish nation's homeland and its values," the settler leader added.
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said, "It is unfathomable that Netanyahu will turn his back so blatantly on his outlook and the political statements that got him elected. The (construction) freeze was a mistake in itself, and most cabinet ministers admit to this. Netanyahu was elected by the majority of the nation to represent the national camp."
Roni Sofer, Aviel Magnezi and Ali Waked contributed to the report
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