PNA rebuffs Netanyahu's call for direct talks
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) snubbed on Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's calls to start direct peace talks without a full freeze of settlement activities, Xinhua reported.
"Netanyahu knows well what he needs to do to kick off direct talks," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told voice of Palestine radio. "Settlement freeze is the solution."
On Tuesday, Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately start direct peace talks.
Netanyahu said in a press statement that Israel has taken steps to advance peace, such as removing roadblocks in the West Bank and imposing a freeze on building in Jewish settlements.
Erekat said the Palestinian leadership does not oppose direct talks with Israel, "but Netanyahu needs to reveal his stance toward the issue of settlement activity in the West bank and Jerusalem," he added.
The Israelis and the Palestinians began in May U.S.-sponsored indirect talks. The proximity discussions aim at bridging the gaps between the two sides to enable the resumption of face-to-face negotiations.
Both sides stopped direct peace negotiations in December 2008 when Israel waged military operations on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.