Erekat aide denies Obama gave him framework draft
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Erekat aide denies Obama gave him framework draft

Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reports Netanyahu, Erekat received negotiation outline from US president

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat wave before a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 4, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat wave before a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 4, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

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.

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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.

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