Elkin points blaming finger at Palestinians
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) criticized the Palestinians on Wednesday, saying they are unwilling to talk peace despite a renewed push by the United States and Israel to restart long stalled negotiations.
Instead, Palestinians are opting to pursue a strategy of international recognition alone, he said. He made the remarks ahead of another attempt by US Secretary of State John Kerry to revive peace talks when he returns to the region next week.
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"Israel is ready and willing to resume direct peace talks at any moment, it can be done today, tomorrow, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, in Rome, anywhere in the world," Elkin told Israel Radio.
"The world is waiting now for Abu Mazen," he added, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his nickname.
"Abu Mazen hopes to continue the unilateral track as long as he thinks the international community supports it ... he has no reason to resume negotiations," Elkin also said.
"Today the world understands more and more that this is where the problem is and is adopting our formula of peace talks without preconditions."
Last year, the Palestinians won recognition in the UN General Assembly as a nonmember state in those territories.
Although it is mostly symbolic, the upgraded status at the UN granted the Palestinians an upgraded diplomatic status that allows them access to key bodies of the world organization.
The US and Israel viewed the move as an attempt to bypass negotiations with Israel for a peace agreement.
One of Israel's main concerns is that the Palestinians will seek membership in the International Criminal Court where they could press war crimes charges against Israel.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, told international diplomats on Tuesday that he blames the Israelis for the lack of progress, citing Israel's refusal to accept the 1967 lines as the basis for talks and halt settlement construction.
Erekat said that if talks fail then the Palestinians are ready to resume their campaign to join UN and other international bodies in order to prosecute Israel.
Kerry is to return to the Mideast next week for consultations with the two sides. It will be his fifth trip to the area since he took office early this year and promised to launch a fresh effort to restart negotiations.
Kerry has not set a formal deadline for reaching a framework for peace talks, but he has signaled that he will float a formal proposal in the coming weeks.
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