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Erekat: PA won't negotiate with Israel past the agreed upon 9 months

Jan. 21, 2014 12:00 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 21, 2014 6:54 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority will not agree to continue ongoing negotiations with Israel even one day after the agreed upon nine-month time frame is over, the chief of the Palestinian negotiation team told Ma'an on Tuesday.

Saeb Erekat told Ma'an via telephone that the issue of extending negotiations past the nine month deadline has not been posed nor requested, and would not be accepted.

He added, "we will not agree on an extension even for one day, nor shall we agree on any temporary solutions. We resumed negotiations under clearly defined terms about the final status and within a nine-month time frame."

Erekat also denied that there have been any negotiations through secret channels in Washington. He highlighted that the Palestinian negotiation team could meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry next week.

"Some are talking about secret talks in Washington, while I am in Jericho! This is completely false," he added.

The chief PLO negotiator pointed out that meetings between the PA negotiators and John Kerry take place bilaterally without the Israeli side.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Monday reiterated that the PA would remain committed to talks with Israel until the nine-month time frame agreed upon by both sides is over.

The London-based al-Hayat newspaper earlier quoted western sources as saying that Kerry had started to consult the Palestinian Authority and Israel over a possible extension of the given time frame until the end of 2014.

Direct negotiations began in July between Israel and the Palestinians in a US-led attempt to restart the deadlocked peace process.

Israel has announced plans to build thousands of homes in illegal settlements across the West Bank over the course of the talks, inhibiting US efforts.

The Palestinian negotiating team resigned in protest against continued Israeli settlement construction in mid-November, dealing a major blow to negotiations between Israel and the PLO that had already been stalled.

Negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told AFP at the time that they resigned in response to "increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results," following Netanyahu's announcement that Israel would build 20,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank.
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