Erekat plays down threat to dismantle PA
Published Tuesday 22/04/2014 (updated) 23/04/2014 21:14
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat listens to US Secretary of State
John Kerry during a press conference in Ramallah, on January 4,
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- The PLO on Tuesday played down a threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, which is Israel's interlocutor, if US-sponsored peace talks remain deadlocked.
"No Palestinian is speaking of an initiative to dismantle the Palestinian Authority," chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP.
"But Israel's actions have annulled all the legal, political, security, economic and operational aspects of the prerogatives of the Palestinian Authority."
Palestinian negotiators had warned that they may hand responsibility for governing the occupied territories back to Israel if peace talks remain stalled, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday.
He said the Palestinians had told US peace envoy Martin Indyk that unless Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as agreed and freezes settlement building, they could dismantle the Authority, which was set up following the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s and was intended to pave the way towards the establishment of an independent state.
US State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki criticized the threat as "extreme" and warned that any such move would affect American aid to the Palestinians.
Indyk is to take part in a fresh attempt to salvage the peace talks at a meeting in Jerusalem later on Tuesday with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, according to a Palestinian source.
Israel has announced plans for thousands of illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank and killed over 60 Palestinians since peace talks began in July.
Israeli officials have also refused to discuss withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers from the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms around a third of the West Bank.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report