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PLO slams Israel’s rejection of French initiative

April 28, 2016 8:41 P.M. (Updated: April 29, 2016 1:28 P.M.)
Saeb Erekat talks after an Arab Peace Initiative Committee meeting in 2012 (AFP)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat slammed Israel’s official rejection of the upcoming French initiative as a “reaffirmation of the Israeli government’s decision to continue its crimes and violations,” in a press release published Thursday evening.

Earlier on Thursday, a statement from the office of the Prime Minister of Israel rejected the the peace initiative, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations."

"Any other diplomatic initiative distances the Palestinians from direct negotiations," the PM's office said.

Erekat responded by saying the “call for ‘bilateral negotiations’ is not a call for the achievement of the two-state solution, but an attempt at legitimizing its settlement enterprise and the imposition of an Apartheid regime.”

He added that Israel’s statement came “a few hours after Israeli officials confirmed to the Palestinian side that the Israeli government has decided to continue violating its obligations under the signed agreements, including the daily military raids in vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine.”

The initiative in question was launched by the French in preparation for renewed peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leadership, the parameters of which are expected to be presented at a peace conference at the end of May.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously criticized the French initiative, reportedly saying last week: "Can anyone explain what this initiative is about? Even the French don't know."

The initiative was also criticized by Palestinian factions Tuesday after it was announced that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority was postponing the submission of a resolution against illegal Israeli settlements to the UN Security Council, to instead pursue the French initiative.

Netanyahu's call on the Palestinian leadership for direct negotiations comes despite the failure of decades of negotiations to bring the Palestinians any closer to an independent and continuous state.
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