July 16, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Thursday rejected moving to direct talks with Israel in exchange for Israeli goodwill gestures as "insult."

"Going to direct negotiations in exchange for motivation, including financial support, is insulting," said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Stopping settlement expansions, removing checkpoints and releasing prisoners "are Israeli obligations and can't be considered as motivation or goodwill gestures," Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio.

Earlier, al-Hayyat pan-Arab newspaper reported that George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy who leads indirect proximity talks between Israel and the PNA, is carrying "new motivation" to the Palestinians to encourage them to go into face-to-face negotiations with Israel.

Mitchell has been shuttling between Israel and the West Bank since Washington launched the proximity talks in May. He is scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who refuses to engage in direct negotiations before Israel freezes settlements, on Saturday.

Erekat said the Palestinians want Israel to stop settlement in East Jerusalem, the city that they see as the future capital of their statehood, and agree to start the direct talks from the point they broke off at in 2008.

The goal of the proximity talks is to reach an agreement on the borders of the future Palestinian state and settle security issues. However, the Palestinians said the talks haven't made any progress so far.


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