PNA rejects Israeli PM call for direct talks

20:36, July 07, 2010      

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The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Wednesday rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 's call for direct peace talks.

"We reject the call" Netanyahu made Tuesday in Washington following his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, said Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator.

"The era in which we held negotiations while Israel continued its unilateral procedures away from the references of peace no longer exists and has gone forever," Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio.

Netanyahu "closes the door for the direct negotiations and he can open it," Erekat said, urging the hawkish prime minister to stop settlement constructions, including the so-called natural growth of the blocs, and to agree that the direct negotiations resume from where they stopped in 2008.

Obama said he was confident that the indirect negotiations, launched by Washington in May, would lead to direct talks, while Netanyahu said it is time to shift to face-to-face discussions rather than the so-called proximities.

Erekat asked the U.S. administration "to let Israel choose between peace and settlements because the two things can not be taken together."

The Palestinians hope to have a statehood comprising Gaza and the West Bank with East Jerusalem being its capital, and it has been hard for them to accept any compromise that doesn't stop settlement activities in the West Bank.

George Mitchell, the U.S. Middle East envoy, has been shuttling between Israel and the PNA since May. Erekat said the Palestinians "save no efforts to make Mitchell's mission successful," adding that the PNA awaits Israeli answers on core issues like borders and security.

Source: Xinhua


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