Kifah Zaboun
Asharq Alawsat
June 29, 2010 - 12:00am

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and official in charge of the negotiations dossier in the PLO, stressed that the option of disbanding the Palestinian Authority [PA] will be put on the table shortly if a two-solution solution is not reached. He however did not set a time frame for dissolving the PA but hinted at the end of this year. In a statement over telephone from New York, where he is currently visiting, he said: "I will not go back on what I said; Israel cannot possibly believe that it will remain the source of power [for the PA] for good."

Erekat described the Israeli occupation as "deluxe occupation" as it does not pay a price for occupying the Palestinian territories. He said: "The occupation is the highest source of terrorism. It has established history's worst apartheid in the Palestinian territories, devoting streets on which only Israelis can drive or walk, and other streets for the Palestinians. If the occupation believes that we will work under the umbrella of this apartheid [last word in English], it is mistaken."

It is to be recalled that during a stormy discussion between Erekat and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor at a seminar organized by the International Institute for Peace in New York, Erekat raised an argument on the situation in the Middle East when he said that the option of dissolving the PA is on the table. [qa'im]." Addressing Meridor, he said: "The PA was established to reach a two-state solution, not to maintain Israel as the source of power [for the PA] and a ruling force for good. If you believe this can continue, this will not." He added: "If we fail to reach a two-state solution, Israel cannot continue to be the source of authority to the [Palestinian] Authority. There will be hard decisions for you [to make]." He called on the United Nations, the Quartet committee, and the US Administration to pressure Israel on the creation of a [Palestinian] state by the end of this year, stressing that in return the PA will not unilaterally proclaim its independence.

Erekat accused Israel of continuing to reject resumption of the negotiation from the point where they left off in December 2008 when former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in power. He said: "Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government has so far refused to respond to these three important questions: Is it prepared to resume the negotiations from the point where they left off toward the end of 2008? Does Israel recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine? Does it agree to the 1967 border as a basis for the two-state solution?" He added: "The time has come for a decision not negotiations; the negotiations have come to an end, and Israel has to choose between peace and settlements"

Erekat challenged Meridor to announce approval of the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 border, saying: "If you agreed, history would be made here today." He addressed Meridor saying: "As Palestinians, we have come a long way; we will not beg for peace from Israel." Meridor responded by saying that if the Palestinians want peace "they should be honest and serious about it." He expressed his government's desire to move to direct negotiations with the Palestinians in the next few weeks instead of the proximity negotiations which he described as odd. He added: "Both sides should talk to one another and make the necessary hard decisions to make progress in the peace process." He accused the Palestinian party of being intransigent and adopting the strategy of "everything or nothing," and of not doing enough to adopt what he described as hard options. Meridor added: "Even if both parties fail to reach agreement on all core issues "the negotiations must not be allowed to collapse."

Erekat reiterated the PA's stand on its preparedness to resume negotiations if Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and agrees to resume the negotiations from the point where they left off with the former Israeli government toward the end of 2008. The argument got heated between Erekat and Meridor and they exchanged accusations of racism. Erekat told Meridor that Israel acts with unprecedented racism in the West Bank and Meridor responded by saying that the Palestinian party's rejection of Jewish settlement in the West Bank is racist.


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