Friday, January 10, 2014

As Erakat Fumes, Poll Shows Israelis Reject Further Concessions

Ari Yashar

Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reacted to the announcement Friday of Israeli construction tenders for over 1,800 new housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Erekat claimed the plans were a message to US Secretary of State John Kerry that peace talks are over.

The newly declared plans include 801 units in Judea and Samaria as well as 600 units in Jerusalem, with tenders on an additional 532 units in Jerusalem that were previously announced being re-marketed.

"The new settlement construction is a message from (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu to Kerry not to come back to the region to continue his efforts in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks," Erekat told AFP.

"Every time Kerry has stepped up his efforts, returning to the region (for more talks), Netanyahu has stepped up his efforts to destroy the peace process," complained Erekat. "Netanyahu is determined to destroy the two-state solution. It is high time we held Israel accountable for its crimes."

In late December Erekat similarly announced that the talks had failed after Israeli opposition to Jordan Valley withdrawals, saying that the PA should unilaterally pursue statehood through the UN.

Reports Friday morning indicated that Netanyahu told senior officials of his intention not to sign any framework deal that would divide Jerusalem.

Meanwhile a new poll released Friday by Maariv showed 80% of Israelis believe the US backed peace talks will not succeed. 507 Jewish and Arab citizens were polled in the survey.

A further 73% rejected a total withdrawal of Israeli troops from Judea and Samaria under the framework of any peace deal, an Israeli withdrawal Kerry's proposals reportedly include.

Another opinion poll, this time conducted among 500 Jewish citizens by Israel Hayom, found 70% of Israelis reject a withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, while 53% said Kerry was not "honest" and sincere in pushing peace talks.

Those concerns seem founded given recent revelations indicating Kerry has been secretly manipulating European boycotts as tool to pressure Israel, and may even have initiated the boycott drives himself.

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