A jailed Palestinian leader has warned against more peace talks with Israel, saying a resumption of negotiations will not achieve Palestinian goals and deepen divisions among Palestinians.
Ahmed Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said the Middle East conflict could only be resolved through the creation of a state shared by Palestinians and Jews - a position at odds with the "two-state solution" long sought by world powers.
In written answers to questions from Reuters, Saadat condemned Palestinian participation in indirect negotiations that are expected to begin soon under the stewardship of the United States. The questions were delivered by his lawyer.
"Negotiations will be nothing but a cover for the continuation of an Israeli policy built on the continuation of occupation," said Saadat, who is serving 30 years in an Israeli
jail for his role in the Palestinian Intifada that erupted in 2000.
Israel had accused him of ordering the 2001 assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi, though later decided there was not enough evidence to charge him with that killing.
He heads a group that remains, nominally at least, the second largest faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella group led by President Mahmoud Abbas and dominated by his Fatah movement.
Though the PFLP's influence is today limited compared to that of Fatah and the Islamist group Hamas, which is not part of the PLO, Saadat is one of the most high profile Palestinians in an Israeli jail.
Hamas wants him released as part of an exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians in cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip in 2006.
Saadat said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had obstructed a deal. "There is no room for Hamas to retreat from the names put forward in the negotiations," he said.
Israel, Saadat said, was not interested in peace talks leading to a solution acceptable to the Palestinians.
The talks proposed by the United States to revive the two-decade old peace process aimed to hide "American impotence" and U.S. President Barack Obama's failure to make good on promises of a new beginning with the Muslim world, he said.
The PLO executive committee is expected to approve the indirect negotiations on Saturday. The Arab League has already given its nod, approving four months of such talks.
Justifying Arab support for more talks, Abbas says he has received U.S. assurances Israel will not carry out any "provocative measures".
Saadat said the Palestinian leadership had given way on its demands, which had included a full halt to settlement building on Israeli-occupied land that the Palestinians seek for a state.
More talks, Saadat said, would make it harder to achieve reconciliation between Abbas and opponents of his strategy, which is aimed at negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The rejection of Abbas's strategy by Hamas and other factions is at the heart of a national rift that many Palestinians believe has set back their cause.
Saadat said: "The continuation of negotiations, direct or indirect, will have consequences on the efforts to repair the Palestinian rift and achieve reconciliation."
Saadat said the only way to end the Middle East conflict was through the creation of a single state. The idea of a single, bi-national country between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan on land controlled by Israel is rejected by Israel as it would endanger its Jewish majority.
"The solution is the one-state solution and not the two-state solution," Saadat said. "There are no other horizons for any other settlement."