PA Officials Say Talks Will Continue Till April 29, but Still No Breakthrough

Saeb Erekat says Israel's decision to freeze Palestinian funds is equal to piracy; dozens of security in prisoners in Israel to go on hunger strike Sunday.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Cairo, April 9, 2014.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Cairo, April 9, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are set to go on until April 29 at this stage, while all other issues remain unresolved, PA officials told Haaretz on Saturday.

According to the officials, Israeli reports about further progress in the talks are exaggerated.

"We feel that the Israelis are talking about some progress – and even starting to believe themselves – even though it's a lie and there's actually no breakthrough. Everything seems stuck," a high ranking Palestinian official said.

The official also told Haaretz that Israel had rehashed its suggestion that prisoners released as part of the "fourth batch" – even Israeli Arabs – would be relegated to either the West Bank territories or Gaza. He added that this proposition was vehemently rejected by the Palestinian side.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah that he was outraged by Israel's intention to impose sanctions against the PA. This followed the Palestinian move to apply for memberships in several international groups – which came as reaction to Israel's backing down on its commitment to release a fourth batch of prisoners.

According to Erekat, the restrictions, which include a freezing of Palestinian debts and funds, are tantamount to piracy and are a violation of international law.

The Palestinian Authority reiterated that completing the "fourth batch" cannot be conditioned on the extension of peace talks beyond April 29.

"Whatever happens after the 29th must be based on a full freeze on settlements. Negotiations must focus on borders," former Fatah Foreign Relations Commissioner Nabil Shaath told Haaretz.

Nabil added that Israel's demand that the Palestinians rescind their applications for international organizations is ridiculous. "Beyond it being our right to apply," Nabil said, "you need to understand that first and foremost these are binding treaties which we will be committed as a nation and as a state to uphold, and that pertain to issues like the rights of women, war on corruption and the prevention of torture. That is why Israel's objection is so odd."

"Also," Nabil said, "Israel was the one who broke the deal [the preconditions for negotiations] by not releasing the 'fourth batch.'"

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Hamed, West Bank commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade who is imprisoned in Israel, said he will go on a hunger strike starting Sunday, protesting his being held separately from other security prisoners. Along with Hamed, dozens of other detainees (15 from each prison holding security prisoners) will join him on strike, both in personal solidarity and in marking the annual Palestinian Prisoner Day, which takes place on April 15.

Hamed was sentenced in 2006 for 54 life sentences.

Activists have demonstrated Friday outside Gilboa prison, showing support for the inmates and urging the Palestinian leadership not to waiver on the release of the "fourth batch."

Tzipi Livni, Isaac Molho, and Saeb Erekat meeting in Jerusalem in August.Credit: GPO
Nabil Shaath, Fatah’s commissioner for external relationsCredit: AP
An archive photo showing Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah.Credit: Reuters

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