Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat attended a meeting with U.S. officials at the U.S. State Department Wednesday, at which U.S. officials were expected to push the PA negotiator to accept American terms for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Acting Middle East Envoy David Hale and diplomat Dennis Ross both attended the meeting with Erekat.
Following their meeting, Erekat said in a brief press conference that he does not expect the Quartet’s meeting scheduled for July 11 to “invent the wheel.”
“We are in contact with all Quartet members,” said Erekat, “All they have to do is to make the Israeli government accept a two-state solution based on ‘67 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, as President Obama outlined in his speech, and to stop settlement activity.”
Erekat added that “there is no contradiction between the peace process and the UN recognition of a Palestinian state. We have already been talking for more than 20 years. We are committed to submitting an application,” he said, however he did not say when the Palestinians intend to submit their application for a vote at the UN General Assembly.
Erekat explained that the UN General Assembly requires that the Palestinians submit their application 35 days prior to the vote, which is expected to take place on September 21, but added that history shows countries rarely stick to these time lines.
He said that the timeline will be decided upon at the Arab follow-up ministerial meeting that will take place in Cairo on July 16.
Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution threatening to cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if its leaders continue to pursue a unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state at the United Nations and the reconciliation with Hamas.
The house of representatives was expected to vote on a similar resolution Thursday, and debated it on Wednesday night. The resolution already has 320 co-sponsors.
When asked by Haaretz to comment on the threat to cut aid to the Palestinians, Erekat said, “Those who oppose us going to the United Nations must rethink their position,” he said. “Our goal is two states living side by side.”
Erekat added, when asked if the threat regarding financial aid looked serious to him, that "people have choices to make when they seek to get rid of the occupation and the Israelis are deepening it."
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren said Wednesday that Israel has been engaged in rather intensive talks with the United States, on taking elements of President Obama’s speech and using them as a platform for talks. “We are in close coordination with the Obama Administration on that, trying to dissuade Palestinians from pursuing their current course – reconciliation with Hamas – and going to the United Nations."
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