Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were discussing the future borders of a Palestinian state when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off the peace talks two weeks ago, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday.
Speaking about the breakdown of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and the national unity deal reached between Hamas and Fatah which precipitated the end of negotiations, Erekat told the American National Public Radio that Netanyahu’s decision to suspend talks was “very shortsighted.”
“We actually were talking about [borders] the last session, when Mr. Netanyahu decided to break the negotiations because of the agreement with Hamas,” Erekat said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said last week as the deadline for the nine-month American-mediated negotiations expired that there could be no peace with Israel without first defining the borders of a future Palestinian state.
“Since the creation of Israel, nobody knows what the borders are. We are determined to know our borders and theirs; without that there will be no peace,” Abbas said last Tuesday.
Concerning the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, Erekat said that there was no guarantee that Hamas, which says it’s committed to Israel’s destruction, will renounce violence or recognize Israel.
“I’m not saying that they’ve changed on anything,” he said. “All I’m saying is that when we have a government, the government should have a program of recognizing Israel, two-state solution, and renouncing violence.”
The deal uniting Fatah and Hamas under a single Palestinian government is pending finalization, after which the deal will be put to a national referendum, Erekat said. Abbas met with Hamas leader Khaled Maashal in Qatar on Monday, and a Hamas statement said the talks were “positive.”