Erekat: Israel has prioritized settlements over peace
Published Sunday 23/03/2014 (updated) 26/03/2014 16:21
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- Recent Israeli actions against the Palestinian people indicate that Israel has given priority to settlement expansion and the demands of settlers over peace and negotiations, a top PLO negotiator said Sunday.
Member of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat made his remarks during separate meetings with Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn, UN envoy Robert Serry and US peace envoy Martin Indyk.
Erekat's remarks come only a day after Israeli forces three Palestinians during a raid on Jenin refugee camp and news that Israel had approved more than 2,000 new homes in six different Jewish settlements across the West Bank.
Erekat said that these practices, as well as the repeated raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the tightening of restrictions against Palestinian worshipers, constitute a "systemic" effort to foil US and international efforts to implement a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.
On Thursday, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said in a statement that he was "gravely concerned" by Israel's new settlement plans.
He added: "Settlements are illegal under international law and cannot be reconciled with Israel's stated intention to pursue a two-state solution."
"This development is particularly unhelpful against the backdrop of a volatile situation on the ground and as US-led peace negotiations have reached a critical stage," he said.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.
Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the talks began.