Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat have received a draft of the American framework agreement, according to a report in a Palestinian daily Wednesday evening that was denied by Ramallah the next day.
According to Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds, Netanyahu asked US President Barack Obama during their meeting Monday to pressure the Palestinians to extend negotiations with Israel until the end of 2014. Netanyahu, the report continued, received a draft of the framework agreement and “endorsed a large part of it in principle.”
“Knowledgeable sources” told Al-Quds that Erekat, visiting the US to prepare a meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Obama later this month, received the same draft as Netanyahu on Monday. Erekat met with US Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of Kerry’s speech at AIPAC’s policy conference.
But Xavier Abu Eid, an assistant to Erekat, told The Times of Israel in a telephone conversation Thursday that he was unaware of any document delivered by the Americans.
“I don’t know where Al-Quds got its information from,” he said. “Nothing was given to us.”
No comment was available from the Israeli side at time of publication.
On Saturday, Erekat said that the Palestinians will seek recognition as a state with international organizations if Israel fails to address basic Palestinian negotiation demands. But Al-Quds’s sources said that realistically the Palestinians must continue negotiating beyond April.
“The Palestinians are convinced that they have no real choice but to continue negotiating if they want to shield themselves from the accusation of torpedoing the talks,” the sources told the daily. “This point was emphasized by John Kerry during his meeting with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday told Israel Radio that the Palestinian side was to blame for the deadlocked peace talks, accusing them of intentionally torpedoing them.
Abbas told Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on this week that he will not continue negotiating unless Israel freezes settlement construction and releases more Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel.