PNA says Israel may thwart talks before starting
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused on Thursday Israel of working to thwart the U.S.- sponsored proximity talks before they begin, Xinhua reported.
"Nobody expects the failure of the negotiations before they begin except those who want it to fail," Erekat said, responding to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor who on Wednesday said that the proximity talks "won't work" and "won't yield results."
Erekat explained that the indirect talks, which are likely to begin next week, would fail "if Israel and its rightist and extremist government insisted on continuing the building of settlements."
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who will lead the proximity negotiations, will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to agree on the mechanism of Mitchell's go-between mission, said Erekat.
Erekat added the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) wanted to give a chance to the U.S. administration to implement its proposals.
The peace talks between Israel and the PNA has been stalled in 2008 and the Palestinians insist that to resume the talks Israel must stop building more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem or expand the existed ones.
In a bid to push the Middle East process, Washington proposed to lead proximity talks between the two sides to pave the way for a restart of the face-to-face discussions. The negotiations are likely to begin next week, according to local reports.
The talks are likely to take four months, however, Erekat said the Palestinians will withdraw "immediately" if Israel continued expanding settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank after the launch of the talks.