Palestinians: Direct talks only if Israel settlements end

Palestinians: Direct talks only if Israel settlements end

Palestinians responded coolly Wednesday to calls by US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move from indirect to direct peace negotiations, DPA reported 

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat blamed Netanyahu for blocking the way to direct negotiations, because of his refusal to meet Palestinian demands for a full freeze on Israeli construction in both the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has decried as insufficient a partial 10-month freeze on construction in Israeli West Bank settlements - but not East Jerusalem - which Netanyahu declared last November.

Erekat, asked if he expected more US pressure on the Palestinians in the wake of Tuesday's meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, said: "The whole world and the US administration knows that the one who is blocking the door to direct negotiations is Netanyahu.

"We are sincerely interested in starting direct negotiations, but Netanyahu keeps closing the door in front of us," Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio. "Netanyahu must decide if he wants peace or settlements. He cannot have both."

He also reiterated that the Palestinians first want to see progress in indirect talks on the issues of borders and security, and for direct negotiations to resume from where they ended in December 2008, during an election campaign in Israel that saw the nationalist Netanyahu return to power.

"The world knows that starting direct talks is in the hands of Netanyahu. All he has to do is say that all settlement activities, even those in Jerusalem, will stop," Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

"We have had a peace process for 19 years, but the Israeli settlement policy has not changed," he added.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak however said that there was a good chance that the direct talks would begin soon.

He told Israel Radio that the main result of the Obama-Netanyahu parley was that an attempt will be made to begin the direct talks even before the end of the construction freeze in September.

As a result, he said, the question of what would happen once the freeze ends "will take place against the backdrop of direct negotiations with the Palestinians on all the core issues with the goal of reaching an arrangement."

"The moment we have direct talks with the Palestinians on all the subjects, all the other things, all the obstacles, hidden and revealed, are given a different proportion," he said.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, said his Islamist organization "refutes Obama's call for direct negotiations," which he said would only serve as a "cover up" for continuing the occupation. He also charged that Obama's and Netanyahu's statements again showed "there is no hope for change in US foreign policy."

He additionally rejected Obama's praise of Israeli steps to ease its economic blockade of Gaza, saying "we want the siege to be completely lifted."

Tuesday's White House meeting - Netanyahu's first since a chilly reception in March - revived heated differences within his largely hardline cabinet on whether Israel should extend its partial moratorium on Israeli construction in the West Bank.

Ministers of the left-to-centre Labour Party support an extension, while hawks in Netanyahu's nationalist Likud and in other right-wing and ultra-right coalition parties oppose it.

The moratorium, which excludes Jewish neighbourhoods built in annexed East Jerusalem, is due to expire on September 26.

Ultra-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisted Wednesday that Israel has not made "any promises" to Obama regarding an extension of the settlement moratorium and that the issue had not been the main one on the agenda.

"We must ensure that normal life continues (in the settlements) for those who were sent there by all the governments of Israel," Lieberman, who himself lives in a settlement near Jerusalem, told Israel Radio.

Barak, leader of the centre-left Labour Party insisted, however, that there was more to the White House meeting than published. He said Netanyahu had shown Obama that he was serious and prepared to act regarding the peace process. That was the reason for the Labour Party to stay in the coalition, he said.

Barak has been criticized internally for serving as a "fig leaf" in Netanyahu's otherwise right-wing coalition, despite the absence of a meaningful peace process.

EU shares new programs to be implemented in Georgia in 2021
EU shares new programs to be implemented in Georgia in 2021
Georgia reaches preliminary agreement with Novavax
Georgia reaches preliminary agreement with Novavax
Georgia makes rapid progress on its commitments under Energy Community - Green for Growth Fund
Georgia makes rapid progress on its commitments under Energy Community - Green for Growth Fund
Loading Bars
Latest
JP Morgan says Azerbaijan to raise crude output in 2022
Vaccination - best way to protect against infectious diseases - Azerbaijani ministry
Azerbaijan shares footage from Fuzuli's Garadaghly village (VIDEO)
Value of equipment, raw materials imported to Iran's Arvand Trade Zone increases
Uzbekistan, UAE talk co-op in agro-industrial sector
Germany's Merck KGaA predicts earnings gain in 2021 on lab gear
JP Morgan lowers forecasts for Azerbaijan’s 2021 oil production
Prices of Azerbaijani oil rebound
Several Russian airlines receive permission to operate flights to Azerbaijan
Workers of educational sphere in Baku undergoing COVID-19 vaccination
Kazakhstan’s Oil Construction Company opens tender to buy pipes
Nepal Parliamentarians take first shot of Made-in-India COVID-19 vaccine
IAF chief visits Colombo to mark Sri Lankan Air Force’s 70th anniversary
Non-OPEC production to remain heavily constrained
Iranian currency rates for March 4
Prices for precious metals in Azerbaijan decline
Turkmenistan ranks second in oil exports through Russia
Uzbekistan witnesses increase in volume of transport cargo turnover
Lufthansa reports smaller than expected net loss in fourth-quarter
Oil strengthens on prospect of OPEC+ maintaining supply cuts, drop in U.S. inventories
Turkey shares data on cargo, passenger traffic at Antalya Airport
Turkish company's participation in tenders of Mining Operations General Directorate banned
SOCAR Turkey reveals financial contribution of digitalization projects
Volume of Jan. 2021 cargo shipment from Romania via Turkish ports disclosed
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 4
Azerbaijan, Venezuela discuss opportunities for co-op development
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 4
Anti-Iran resolution at IAEA non-constructive - Chief of Staff of Iran's president
UK new car sales slump in February amid COVID-19 hit
No way sabotage-terrorist group members can be considered POWs - Azerbaijani MFA (INTERVIEW)
Uzbekistan eyes increasing export of electrical products
Azerbaijan's Innovation Center talks on activities to support local startup ecosystem
Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of metal products
Volume of handmade carpets in Iran increases
U.S. House cancels Thursday session after police warn of possible plot on Capitol
Croatian companies increase export of IT technologies to Azerbaijan - Croatian Embassy
Swedish police investigating possible 'terror motives' in knife attack
WHO reports over 348,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Ukraine to receive 30 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021: PM
Turkey’s export of chemical products up in early 2021
SpaceX’s Starship prototype explodes minutes after landing in Texas
Israel reports 4,173 new COVID-19 cases, 788,869 in total
EU shares new programs to be implemented in Georgia in 2021
UK reports 6,385 new COVID-19 cases, 315 deaths
Facebook to end ban on political ads in United States
Biden says it's a 'big mistake' for states to lift mask mandates
Covid protection measures vital due to unpredictability of its mutations — WHO
Africa's confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 3.91 mln
CoronaVac efficacy above 83% after Phase 3 trials in Turkey
Karaganda region to build mega sheep farm
Iran exports over 1.4mn tons of round bar in 10 months
Georgia reaches preliminary agreement with Novavax
Bitcoin rises by over 10% surpassing $52,000
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Romania
Czech Republic reports record breaking number of people hospitalized with COVID-19
WHO doesn’t recommend introducing Covid passports for now
Azerbaijan holds command training of troops of Nakhchivan garrison (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan reconstructs houses damaged during Second Karabakh War – Trend TV
Iran preparing for possible travel restrictions for Nowruz holiday
Iran's Health Minister expresses concern over spread of UK Coronavirus variant across country
Iran plans to release held up commodities from customs
Metallurgical production may increase in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's foreign trade balance with Israel remains positive in Jan. 2021
Venezuela always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity - Ambassador
Azerbaijan, Pakistan discuss areas of military cooperation (VIDEO)
Bio-smart pavilion ready for integration with Smart City project network - Azerbaijan Innovation Agency
Georgia makes rapid progress on its commitments under Energy Community - Green for Growth Fund
Azerbaijani State Customs Committee develops new portal for visualizing customs statistics
'Uzbekistan GTL' plant receives fuel gas for first time
All deals with corporate securities in Azerbaijan fell on secondary market - BSE
Most transactions on state securities in Azerbaijan accounts for primary market
Azerbaijan plans to expand geography of wine export
U.S. private payrolls rise less than expected in February
Prosecutor's Office talks details of mine explosion accident in Aghdam
Loan portfolio of trade and services sector increases in Azerbaijan
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price starts to rise in Iran
Azerbaijan announces net foreign assets of commercial banks for January
Croatian 'green energy' companies could contribute to dev't of Azerbaijani liberated lands
President Aliyev receives in video format delegation led by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan (PHOTO)
Next equipment from India will be brought to Iran’s Chabahar port
Silk Way Technics company has been keeping aircraft flying safely for 15 years
Turkmenistan has potential to benefit from future co-op with EU
Uzbek currency rates for March 4
Azerbaijani, Italian FMs discuss prospects for comprehensive development of relations
Iran plans to increase mushroom production and exports
Growth of trade turnover observed between Turkey and Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan's experience of implementing 'smart' projects to be presented in Belarus
PayPal in talks to buy Israeli co Curv
Kazakhstan expects recovery of business activity in 1Q2021
Chief of Azerbaijani Aghdam's Irrigation Department heavily injured in mine explosion (PHOTO)
OPEC+ considers oil output roll over for April
Azerbaijani police officers find air defense systems left by Armenians in Fuzuli (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Kazakhstan's Home Credit and Finance Bank may face additional asset quality pressure
Iran's exports to Turkmenistan via railways increase
Turkish revenues from export of defense-related products grow
Turkey increases steel exports to Azerbaijan since early 2021
Turkey plans to increase trade turnover volume with Georgia
Hungarian Globalia Kft to support solar park creation in Kazakhstan
Significant number of people receive unemployment benefits in Georgia
Turkey attaches importance to Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral format of co-op - FM
All news