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Interview: Palestinians ready to resume peace talks after UN bid: chief negotiator

http://english.hebei.com.cn  2012-12-04 18:12

  Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a special interview with Xinhua on Monday that the Palestinians are ready to resume the peace talks with Israel based on new references after the United Nations granted the Palestinians the status of a non-member observer state.

  "We have so many options after our success in the UN, mainly joining the various UN organizations," Erekat told Xinhua, "The Palestinian leadership will immediately start to study the mechanisms of joining these organizations, including the International criminal court in The Hague."

  The Palestinian options "are well-studied and will never be reactions. We are bearing in mind our strategy that serves the highest interests of the Palestinian people," he said, adding that "after the UN (bid), there is a new situation. We hope that Israel resumes the talks based on ending settlement."

  Erekat said that after the world recognized a state for the Palestinians, "we want to see a cessation of settlement activities, a release of the prisoners and a resumption of the talks on permanent status issues that ends the occupation and establish an independent state on the territories Israel occupied in 1967."

  The UN General Assembly convened Thursday on granting the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) the non-member observer state status, where 138 countries voted in favor, nine voted against and 41 abstained. It is the first time ever in the history of the conflict that the Palestinians are recognized as a state.

  "Upgrading the Palestinian status to a non-member observer state in the UN gives the Palestinians five new advantages in their conflicts with Israel. The first is considering the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem as the territories of the future Palestinian state occupied by Israel in 1967," he said.

  Erekat added that the second advantage is that there are 193 countries in the world, which are members of the UN General Assembly, will be concerned about their colleague -- "the non- member observe state of Palestine" because it is still under the Israeli military occupation.

  "The third advantage is that all the Israeli measures that had been taken since 1967, including the annexation of east Jerusalem, the confiscations of lands, building up settlements and expelling the residents out of their lands, are all illegal and will be considered as war crimes," said Erekat.

  He added that the fourth advantage is that the recognition of a state "defined a reference to any future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, mainly the necessity of the full withdrawal from the occupied territories that Israel occupied in June 1967."

  "The fifth advantage is that the state of Palestine is having the right to join all the various organizations of the UN and join drafting and writing international resolutions," said Erekat, adding that the non-member observer state of Palestine "would soon join 16 UN branches, mainly the international courts."

  Erekat said the Palestinian side rejected a request from several UN member states to guarantee not to join international organizations. "The United States threatened to close the PLO offices in Washington if the Palestinians join the UN organizations," he said, adding that the Palestinians reject all U. S. threats and "we made our decision in accordance to our interests away from reactions and we hope that all countries understand our decisions that are made in accordance to our interests after deep debates and studies."

  Commenting on the Israeli reaction to the UN upgrade of the Palestinian mission by holding the PNA dues of tax revenues, Erekat said, "Unfortunately, Israel is reacting in a way that completely undermines the peace process."

  Israel also decided to build another 3,000 housing units in the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Erekat said the decision reflects Israel's "piracy policy" and shows Israel as an "arrogant state that violates the international laws and conventions."

  Erekat meanwhile urged the United States "to pick up this opportunity and exert heavy pressure on the Israeli government to accept a peace process based on halting settlement activities, including in the area of Jerusalem, and resume the talks according to a timetable that ends the occupation."

  The direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stopped in October 2010, four weeks after it was resumed in Washington, as Israel insisted on the expansion of settlements.

  Erekat also stressed that the Palestinian priority now "is to end the internal Palestinian division and achieve reconciliation with Hamas."

  "We are still living under the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and there is nothing we disagree about with Hamas, and if we disagree in anything in the future, going to the ballots and holding elections will be the solution," he said.

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