The Palestinian Authority (PA) has threatened to pull out of the planned direct talks with Israel unless it halts illegal settlement construction in the West Bank.
“Settlements and peace are two parallels that don’t meet,” acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas urged the Middle East Peace Quartet on Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“If Israel continues with the settlement construction, we will withdraw from the talks,” read a letter delivered to the quartet by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
The document also urged the quartet members — the European Union, Russia, the UN and the US — to abide by the principles of the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, the 2002 road map and the 2002/2007 Arab Peace Initiative.
Meanwhile, a partial, 10-month moratorium on settlement building on in the occupied West Bank is due to expire on September 26.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already re-assured his cabinet that the moratorium will not be renewed, warning that extending the freeze would risk the future of his right-wing coalition cabinet.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday invited Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington on September 2.
Despite strong opposition from major Palestinian factions, PA officials agreed to US calls for the resumption of direct peace talks with Israel but insisted the new plan must meet their demands.
The Gaza-based Hamas movement denounced the US invitation as “misleading” and said the US plan is not acceptable because it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people.