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PLO negotiator says Israel acts risk scuppering peace talks

Sept. 20, 2013 12:00 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 23, 2013 9:32 P.M.)
AL-ZUBEIDAT (AFP) -- Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday that peace talks could come to an abrupt end if Israel continues building settlements on occupied land and killing Palestinians.

"There is a kind of pattern in these negotiations since they began," Erekat said during a visit with diplomats and journalists to the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

"Every time there's a (negotiating) session, there is an announcement on tenders" for new settler homes, he said.

And "seven Palestinians have been killed so far" in operations by the Israeli army since US-brokered bilateral talks resumed in August.

Days before the first meeting on Aug. 14, Israel announced the approval of more than 2,000 new Jewish settler homes for construction in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem.

In the latest deadly clash between Palestinians and the Israeli army, soldiers shot a 21-year-old suspected Palestinian militant during an arrest attempt at his home in Jenin on Sept. 9. He died in hospital.

"Somebody needs to tell the Israelis: 'Give this peace process a chance, because if your pattern is to prevent Palestinians from coming to the negotiating table, you're about to succeed.'"

Erekat declined to elaborate on the progress of negotiations, which are under a media blackout imposed by the talks' middleman, US Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, he did comment on a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley even after the creation of a Palestinian state.

"In 2012, the net income from the settlements' enterprise project in the Jordan Valley and the Tubas governorate was estimated at $612 million dollars."

"Netanyahu says that he needs to stay another 40 years in any settlements in the Jordan Valley. Of course, he will stay another four hundred years with such profits!"

Short-lived peace talks collapsed in September 2010 after Netanyahu declined to renew a freeze on new settlement construction in the West Bank.
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