Israelis and Palestinians began pointing fingers at each other after US special envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell failed to convince both sides to return to peace talks.
Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas rejected Mitchell’s request, saying that the relaunch of the peace process is being hindered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of enlarging illegal settlements and the addition of more and more preconditions for talks.
However, a statement from Netanyahu’s office blamed the Abbas administration for putting forward preconditions "that they never asked before from any previous Israeli government."
PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat issued a statement on Saturday in which he blamed Netanyahu for the halt in the peace negotiations.
By continuing to build settlements, the statement said, Israel has announced its “intention to continue its occupation, irrespective of the outcome [of peace talks]."
Erekat said that Israel’s actions constitute a direct challenge to the international community and the settlements and their expansion "cast Israel’s readiness for peace further into doubt.”
The statement added, “Netanyahu has said no to a settlement freeze, no to sharing Jerusalem [Al-Quds], no to the 1967 borders, no to the rights of Palestinian refugees. Now he wants to retain the Jordan Valley. What are these if not Israeli preconditions on negotiations that erode any foundation of hope for the two-state solution?”