PLO member parties urge halt to Israel talks 31Jan12 January 31, 2012

Ma’an News Agency  -  30 January 2012

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Parties with membership of the PLO are urging its leaders to halt talks with Israel until it freezes settlement building, the day before the leadership are set to decide its next steps.

In a statement released Sunday, the 12 parties called on the PLO Executive Committee to end the exploratory talks in Amman, after a Quartet deadline to submit positions on borders and security passed on Thursday.

The PLO said it had done so in early January, and received only a verbal presentation by the Israeli delegate in return. The Israeli presentation “killed the two-state solution, set aside previous agreements and international law,” a PLO official told Reuters after the meeting.

The PLO factions said their leaders should not re-enter negotiations to protest Israel’s continuing settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

The last round of direct negotiations collapsed within weeks in September 2010 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on settlement construction despite pleas and offers of incentives from Washington. Palestinian officials say they cannot negotiate while Israel builds on lands needed for a future Palestinian state.

PLO officials held five exploratory meetings with Israeli representatives in the Jordanian capital during January, in efforts by the diplomatic Quartet — Russia, UN, US and European Union negotiators — to kickstart direct negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Palestinian officials for the deadlock in a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“As things stand now, according to what happened over the past few days — when the Palestinians refused even to discuss Israel’s security needs with us — the signs are not particularly good,” he said.

Netanyahu said he still hoped the Palestinians would “come to their senses and continue the talks so that we can move on to real negotiations.”

The Executive Committee, the cabinet of the PLO, will meet on Monday to discuss its next move, and to prepare for a meeting with the Arab League follow-up committee on Feb. 4.

Signed by Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People’s Party, and the Palestinian National Initiative, among others, the statement also called on the PLO committee to make progress on a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah.

It urged the international community to provide protection of Palestinians against Israel’s violations of international law.

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