PA negotiator: Netanyahu the ‘one person’ hindering peace

Saeb Erekat says that most Israelis want an agreement based on the 1967 lines, but their government lacks a clear policy

Saeb Erekat (photo credit: Issan Rimawi/Flash90)
Saeb Erekat (photo credit: Issan Rimawi/Flash90)

The central impediment to a two-state solution and peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the “one person” who must be convinced of the importance of peace, chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday.

Speaking from Jordan, where he had attended the World Economic Forum along with a host of world leaders, businessmen and politicians, Erekat told Army Radio that he agreed with President Shimon Peres’s Sunday statement that the majority of Israelis want a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, but added that the current Israeli government does not support that solution, nor does Netanyahu.

Erekat said that he had read in the newspapers that morning the opinions of four Israeli ministers: “Yuval Steinitz is really criticizing Peres and telling us that he is not an appointed spokesperson of the Israeli government. A second minister, Uzi Landau, is comparing the 1967 border with Auschwitz. A third, Meir Cohen, is asking to evacuate isolated settlements. And Amir Peretz is supporting a two-state solution on ’67 borders.”

“I know you are a democracy, I know you have a [governing] coalition, but usually a coalition has a program,” Erekat added. “I hope to hear from the prime minister that he accepts, to reflect the majority of Israelis, two states on the 1967 borders.”

If Netanyahu finds the idea of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, unacceptable, Erekat wondered, “Then what does he want? Does he want to keep his army in our independent Palestinian state?”

“Everyone on earth, everyone, is convinced that the solution is two states on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed modifications. But the one person that you need to convince is the prime minister of Israel,” Erekat went on. “Today, security isn’t done by Herodian or Chinese walls. Security is made by good neighbors, and that’s the truth.”

Erekat on Sunday accused Israeli of creating in the West Bank “a worse apartheid than existed in South Africa” and said that the PA could not return to negotiations unless settlement activity was frozen and it was declared by Israel that the basis for talks would be the 1967 borders with minor land swaps.

On Monday, he said that “we want to resume negotiations, we have no conditions for the resumption of negotiations. When we say, two states on the the 1967 borders, or freeze settlements or release prisoners, these are not Palestinian conditions. These are Israeli obligations emanating from [already] signed agreements.”

Shimon Peres, in Jordan for the World Economic Forum, made waves in Israel over the weekend for his statements in support of a two-state solution and resumed negotiations. He had consulted and coordinated with Netanyahu before heading to represent Israel at the WEF event.

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