A month after direct talks began between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington, the PLO called for their suspension which will lead to a return to proximity talks. The PLO's executive committee came to the decision Saturday and called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend negotiations after Israel refused to extend the moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank.
"There will be no negotiations in the shadow of continued settlement," spokesman for the president, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said after leaving the executive committee meeting in Ramallah.
At the end of the meeting, Yasser Abed Rabbo read the official announcement, saying the Palestinians would agree to return to the negotiating table only after Israel had taken various steps – most importantly, freezing building in West Bank settlements.
"The Palestinian leadership sees Israel as responsible for the suspension of the talks," he said.
However, no mention was made in this announcement of quitting the negotiations, and sources told Ynet that the Palestinian Authority was still open to US solutions that may be offered.
The sources said that any such solutions could be placed on the negotiating table until an Arab League summit scheduled for Friday.
US envoy George Mitchell on Friday concluded talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders without agreement on how to keep alive peace negotiations that are on hold due to the dispute over Jewish settlement building.
The ten-month moratorium on settlement building came to an end at the beginning of the week and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided against extending the freeze. The Palestinians as well as the US and the EU expressed their disappointment in Netanyahu's decision.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said following the Mitchell-Abbas meeting Friday evening that the Palestinians expected Israel to choose the path of peace rather than the path of settlements. "These are two parallels which cannot meet," he explained.
Erekat said that the keys for saving the negotiations were in the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said earlier that the ball was in the Palestinian court.
"I have met all of my commitments to the Palestinians, the American administration and the international community," Netanyahu told his advisors in a closed conversation. "Now I expect the Palestinians to relax their conditions and stay in the talks."
According to the prime minister, "Everyone knows that moderate and restrained construction in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will not affect the peace map in any way. So the international community must call on the Palestinians to remain in the peace talks. This is a Palestinian interest just like it's our interest."
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook