The Palestinians would not have returned to the negotiating table with Israel were it not for an American letter of assurances guaranteeing their main negotiating preconditions, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday.
In a lengthy interview with Nazareth-based A-Shams radio, Erekat said that the US had assured Palestinians in writing that talks would recognize the pre-1967 lines as the basis of a Palestinian state; would deal with all core issues (Yerushalayim, refugees, borders, security and water); would take place within a six- to nine-month timetable; and would not allow for any provisional or interim solutions before a final status agreement was signed. Erekat also said that an American-Israeli agreement existed regarding settlements, but did not elaborate on its contents.
(The Palestinians long-time preconditions for resuming talks were that they negotiate Palestinian statehood on the basis of the pre-1967 lines; that Israel freeze settlement building; and that pro-Oslo accords Palestinian prisoners be set free. Israel agreed to a phased release of 104 prisoners, but rejected the other two conditions.)
Erekat also claimed that the European Union’s new directives outlawing all EU cooperation with settlements and other Israeli entities over the 1967 lines were part of a deal reached with Europe in exchange for returning to negotiations
He noted that the Palestinian Authority was currently holding talks with Latin American countries, China, Russia, Japan and the African Union to adopt similar sanctions toward settlements.
“This is an accomplishment,” Erekat told the Israeli radio station. “We would not have returned to the table without a written document confirming these points.”
Read more from Elchanan Miller at Times of Israel.