Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected on Saturday a series of economic incentives proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
During their meeting Friday, Netanyahu and Blair agreed on a new Israeli proposal aimed at easing economic and security restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank as part of the effort to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and convince the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table.
The proposal was presented as the committee of the Quartet – made up of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia – prepared to meet in Munich, Germany. It reportedly includes expanding Arab construction in east Jerusalem and giving the Palestinian Authority security powers in seven West Bank cities.
Netanyahu and Blair (Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO)
Netanyahu also agreed to begin discussions on the development of a Palestinian Authority gas field adjacent to an Israeli gas field off the coast of Gaza. The PM said future revenues from the Palestinian field will go to the PA.
Erekat said the proposal "is just a trick and procrastination of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
"What Netanyahu should do, if he wants to build confidence, is immediately stop settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and recognize a Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967,” the Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted the chief negotiator as saying.
Erekat expressed his hope that western nations "stop dealing with Israel as if it is a country that is above the law" and "reach a historic decision that will recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The senior official called on the Quartet to force Israel to halt settlement construction, "including in Jerusalem."
Addressing the dramatic political developments in the Arab World, Erekat said "what is driving the region to violence and extremism is the continued occupation and Israeli insistence to maintain the settlement enterprise."
He said continuing to deal with Israel as though it were "above the law" will lead to chaos, violence, extremism and a bloodbath.
Netanyahu emphasized on Friday that peace will not be attained by only promoting "economic peace," but rather by "engaging in negotiations for political peace, and I hope Mahmoud Abbas answers my calls."
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