x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

No deal is better than bad deal with Israel, says Palestinian negotiator

Failure to reach a peace deal with Israel is preferable to inking an agreement allowing it to continue its settlement building, says top negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh.

RAMALLAH // Failure to reach a peace deal with Israel would be better than inking an agreement allowing it to continue its settlement building, a top Palestinian negotiator said yesterday.

“In the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously, we believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal,” Mohammed Shtayyeh said.

His remarks were made just days after US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up yet another visit to the region in a bid to shore up Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that appear to be close to collapse after three months of meetings.

Mr Shtayyeh, who has been involved in the talks since they began at the end of July, described a bad deal as “an agreement based upon Israeli colonial ambitions rather than upon internationally accepted principles of international law”.

Israel, he charged, was merely using the negotiations as a front for deflecting international pressure over its settlement construction on land seized during the 1967 Six Day War that the Palestinians want for a future state.

“By insisting on building settlements in Palestine, the government of Israel is showing ... that it is not interested in reaching a peace agreement. They show no seriousness,” he said.

“Israel is using negotiations only as a tool to avoid international pressure while on the ground it continues its colonisation plans rather than peace plans.”

Ahead of Mr Kerry’s arrival last week, several Israeli reports suggested that the Americans were considering putting together a proposal for a possible interim agreement in a bid to force the talks out of deadlock.

Such an idea has been rejected out of hand by the Palestinians, and the reports were flatly denied by Mr Kerry and his entourage.

“We are not looking for an extension of the interim period or any other kind of interim agreement,” Mr Shtayyeh said.

“What we seek is a comprehensive and final agreement that provides the requirements of justice for Palestine.”

Agence France-Presse