Palestinian Negotiator: Israel Sabotaging Talks, Trying to 'Consolidate Apartheid Regime'
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat released a statement Tuesday claiming that the Israeli contingent at the recently concluded round of peace talks "never gave the negotiations a chance to succeed" and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the talks to "consolidate [Israel's] Apartheid regime."
The statements appeared on Ma-an News Agency Tuesday and quickly spread to other media in the region. Erekat claimed that the talks served only to further "annexation." "Unfortunately, Israel never gave the negotiations a chance to succeed," Erekat claimed. The Palestinian leader, who once made headlines for claiming Israeli military personnel had "clearly" committed a "massacre" at a refugee camp in Jenin only to have the charge be denounced by the United Nations as a lie in 2002, argued Tuesday that Israel intended to "kill Palestinians and demolish hundreds of Palestinian homes" instead of reaching a peace negotiation.
The insistence that Israel has refused to negotiate is a common theme among Palestinian leaders. Mahmud Abbas, President of Palestine, claimed that the negotiations had stalled because borders between the Israeli sovereign and Palestine had yet to be fully determined. Abbas also called for "a release of prisoners... a settlement freeze, and a discussion of maps and borders," according to the AFP. A senior Israeli official responded to the demands of the AFP by noting Abbas's ties to Hamas, "a murderous organisation which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel," and insisting that when the Hamas threat is no longer associated with official Palestinian government, "we will be ready to return immediately to the negotiating table and discuss all subjects." The United States government also issued a statement Tuesday condemning association with Hamas. Assistant Secretary for the Near East Anne Patterson told a House hearing that United States funding would not go to any government that accepts Hamas or its current philosophy.
Erekat's description of Israel as an "Apatheid regime" closely follows a similar statement made by Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry – who, given his position in the United States, had a role in the negotiations – was quoted as saying that Israel was in danger of becoming "an Apartheid state" to a meeting of influential world leaders last week. In response to the comment's sparking outrage in both Israel and the United States, Secretary Kerry blamed the "misimpression" on individuals using the comment for "partisan, political purposes." A number of American political leaders have condemned the comments, and Senator Ted Cruz is calling for Secretary Kerry to resign.