Ashrawi says Israel ‘thwarting’ all efforts to resume peace talks 27Jan12 January 27, 2012

Ma’an News Agency  -  26 January 2012

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Wednesday that peace talks with Israel are ‘futile’ as long as it continues its illegal policies against Palestinians.

“With the escalation of settlement activities in and around Jerusalem, the arbitrary arrests of Palestinian representatives and lawmakers, continued annexation of Palestinian land and natural resources, and the eviction and deportation of Palestinians, Israel is thwarting all efforts to resume talks and to honor its obligations under international humanitarian law,” the PLO official said during a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday.

Ashrawi’s comments come amid other statements from Palestinian officials declaring that exploratory peace talks in Amman have ended due to Israeli intransigence.

Former PLO negotiator Nabil Shaath had said Wednesday that a 21 point proposal presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lacked any detail and was “rather a composition about peace done by a high school student.”

President Abbas also dismissed the 21 point document as worthless and said the main obstacles to resuming negotiations are Israeli settlements, above all in Jerusalem, and settler violence against Palestinian communities.

Israel continues to refuse to recognize any future Palestinian borders, Abbas said during a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Juda said that the meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials will stop to allow for evaluation and explore possibilities for moving on to the next stage.

“These meetings, despite the disagreements of views, were clear, serious and honest. We are currently evaluating the outcome of these meetings and consulting the Quartet and the Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative,” Juda said.

PLO official Hanna Amirah had, however, earlier told reporters on Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership would not take a decision to extend negotiations with the Israeli side because the government of Benjamin Netanyahu “doesn’t seek at this stage to achieve any positive progress in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestine’s Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour told a UN Security Council briefing on Wednesday that Palestinians continued to hope for freedom and justice “despite all odds.”

“The two-State solution is withering with every inch of Palestinian land seized by the occupying Power, every settlement unit constructed, every Israeli settler transferred, every wall erected, every home demolished and every Palestinian family displaced,” he said.

President Abbas said that the next move would be a consultation with an Arab League committee on February 4 to discuss progress.

The exploratory talks in Amman came as part of a proposal by the Quartet of Middle East mediators – the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – which set a three-month deadline last October for the two sides to make proposals on issues of territory and security.

The aim is to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.

The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, is on a regional visit to nudge Israelis and Palestinians to maintain the talks begun this month.

She has been seeking Israeli confidence-building measures for Palestinians, including freeing some prisoners and more freedom in areas of the West Bank held by Israel.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since 1967.

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