Palestinian Official to Haaretz: We Are Ready to Consider 'Serious' Negotiations With Israel

Husam Zomlot says negotiations must include settlements and terms of previous agreements; expects a majority at UN Security Council for Palestinian independence

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership is ready to consider any "serious and credible" proposal from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that will include settlements freeze and Israel accepting terms of reference of the previous agreements.

However, the official, Husam Zomlot, said the Palestinian stance does not mean they are ready to withdraw their UN bid. "This time it's about substance, not about the photo-op," he said. "We need to provide something serious to our people. If Netanyahu comes with something serious and credible - we'll look at it very seriously".

Palestinian flag - Reuters - March 18, 2011

The PLO diplomatic envoy to the US, Maen Rashid Erekat, told Haaretz that he is not aware of any plans of a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, adding that "so far our position is very clear - as of today, we are still heading to the UN to seek full membership".

Following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Zomlot said that even if negotiations begin immediately, "we will still go to UN to seek recognition of the Palestinian state, because we see these tracks as complimentary, not contradictory we've had enough of 20 years of unimplemented agreements".

Zomlot added that the Palestinians expect a majority vote at the Security Council in favor of Palestinian statehood. "We have a very fierce campaign," he said. "Our position, which is to create a two state solution, is an international consensus. And we want the Israelis to recognize the Palestinian state, as we recognized theirs."

Referring to Obama's speech at the UN last year, in which he expressed his hope to welcome Palestine to the family of nations in a year's time, Zomlot said that the Palestinians are also seeking the U.S.'s support. "After all," he said, "we've been implementing President Obama's vision."