Palestinian negotiator Muhammad Shtayyeh said Monday that failing to reach an agreement with Israel was a better option than signing a bad treaty, the French news agency AFP reported.
“In the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously, we believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal,” Shtayyeh said in a statement.
Shtayyeh appeared to allude to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments to US Secretary of State John Kerry last week to the effect that the US should not accept a mediocre deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
The Palestinian negotiator went on to assert that Israeli settlement construction was preventing a reasonable deal and that a bad agreement would be “an agreement based upon Israeli colonial ambitions rather than upon internationally accepted principles of international law.”
“Israel is using negotiations only as a tool to avoid international pressure while on the ground it continues its colonization plans rather than peace plans,” he was quoted as saying.
Shtayyeh, who is also a member of the ruling Fatah Central Committee, rejected outright the suggestion of an interim agreement that the US is reportedly promoting.
“We are not looking for an extension of the interim period or any other kind of interim agreement,” Shtayyeh said. “What we seek is a comprehensive and final agreement that provides the requirements of justice for Palestine.”
The official’s comments came after Kerry met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders last week to try and try and breathe new life into the flagging peace process that, after a hiatus of years, resumed at the end of July.
During the visit Kerry flatly denied reports that the US was going to float its own peace solution in early 2014.
Israel and the Palestinians have held more than a dozen secretive meetings since resuming talks. While there have been no official statements on progress — or even on the specific details of the talks — rumors abound that negotiations have run up against both sides’ intractable positions on such key issues as Jerusalem, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, and continued Israeli military presence along the border with Jordan.