Palestinians insist US must rescind Jerusalem decision for peace talks to resume

Jerusalem seen from the Mount of Olives. (Flickr Commons/Dan

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chief negotiator for the Palestinians said they will not resume any kind of peace negotiations with Israel until the United States walks back its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The Palestinian leadership will not accept any offers for negotiations unless the American decision on Jerusalem is annulled,” Saeb Erekat said on January 9, 2018 in an interview with the official Voice of Palestine radio, the official Palestinian Authority WAFA news website reported.

Erekat said the decision “removed Jerusalem from any negotiations.”

He also said the Palestinian leadership does not want to clash with the Trump administration, but that President Donald Trump is the one who created the conflict, stressing that “our peace will not be at any price.”

Referring to the Trump administration’s threat to cut its aid to the UNWRA, or United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, until the Palestinians return to the negotiation table, Erekat charged that the United States wants to “liquidate the Palestinian cause by demanding the dismantling of UNRWA, cutting aid, starving refugees and closing schools.”

In a tweet Jan. 2, Trump wrote: “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has also said since the Jerusalem announcement that he is not willing to return to talks as long as the United States is the sole mediator.

Erekat said the PLO Central Council meeting scheduled for January 14 in Ramallah would discuss defining the Palestinian relationship with Israel in all areas, as well as how to confront and annul the U.S. decision on Jerusalem.

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