Palestinian Negotiator Demands "No Peace Talks Past April"



Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected on Thursday the United States' decision to extend the April deadline for reaching a framework peace deal for nine months.

The US stated that the reason for the extension was because Israel was acting in good faith.

However, Erekat argued that "there is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law." He made reference to Israel's continued construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli Army Radio reported last week that Washington will demand Israel implement a partial settlement freeze once US Secretary of State John Kerry presents his framework for extending peace talks.

It is also worth noting that US President Barack Obama intends to get more involved in the peace talks, beginning with issuing an urgent appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they meet next month. The New York Times reports that Obama will push Netanyahu to agree to the proposed framework agreement currently being drafted by Kerry, who is leading the current round of negotiations.

Erekat also states that should the peace negotiations fail, Palestinians would call for an economic boycott of Israel.

American officials are concerned about the remarks made by Erekat, stating that "it's important to create a positive atmosphere around these discussions. The personal attacks, quite frankly, are unhelpful, and Kerry will make clear that these kinds of comments are disappointing, that they are unhelpful, especially coming from someone involved in the negotiations, indeed the lead negotiator."

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