Interview: Erekat: Netanyahu's choice of settlement over peace terminates Mideast talks

13:50, January 21, 2011      

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by Zhao Yue, Yang Yuanyuan

Israeli prime minister's choice of Jewish settlement over regional peace has caused the halt of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday in an interview with Xinhua.

"Benjamin Netanyahu was given the choices of Jewish settlement and peace, and he chose settlement over peace," Erekat said, adding "that is why the peace negotiations stopped."

Netanyahu is the one to be blamed for the crisis "because we went to the proximity and direct talks, but the Israelis refused to extend the moratorium on settlement activities," added Erekat.

The Palestinians withdrew from the direct talks with Israel on Oct. 2, one month after they were launched in Washington, after Israel refused to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also refused a U.S. proposal to freeze settlement for three months to resume the talks.

Meanwhile, Erekat asserted that the Palestinians are not against resuming the direct talks, saying "everyone on earth knows that the one who is responsible for freezing the negotiations is the prime minister of Israel."

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