EXTRA: Palestinians considering suspending talks with Israel
( dpa ) - The Palestinian Authority is studying the possibility of suspending talks with Israel in light of the latest Israeli military escalation in the Gaza Strip and settlement expansion in and around East Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.
Rafik Husseini, bureau chief of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters in Jerusalem that Abbas and the Palestinian negotiating team "are studying how to respond to the ongoing Israeli violations in Jerusalem and Gaza."
He denied reports that Abbas is considering leaving office, stressing that "the president is still considering his options; however resignation is not one of them."
Husseini accused Israel of pushing the Palestinians, through its actions, to suspend the negotiations because it does not want the talks to continue but also does not want to be the party to call them off.
" Israel is building traps for us and it wants us to fall in them," he said.
Husseini admitted that the negotiations are currently "faltering, but they have not stopped," adding that "the Palestinian negotiator is having a difficult time conducting negotiations ... with all that is going on in Gaza and Jerusalem."
He described the Israeli measures against Gaza, including the stopping of all fuel supplies to the coastal salient's only power plant, as "collective punishment."
Husseini said one option for the Palestinians would be to ask Egypt to supply Gaza with electric power, as it is now doing now for the Rafah area in the south of the Strip. However, he explained, since Israel remains the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, Egypt will have to coordinate any such activity with Jerusalem first.
He added that Abbas is ready to hold early presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian areas to resolve the current divisions among the Palestinian people following the Hamas military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.
He called on militants in Gaza to stop firing missiles into Israel, in order not to give Israel the pretext to continue its attacks and siege of the Strip.