The Palestinian Authority (PA) says the time has come for Palestinian and Israeli leaders to make crucial decisions, downplaying the mediatory role of the US.
"We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There can be a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps and solutions for the refugees," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said during his address at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Hailing the two-state solution as a realistic option, Erekat said that he believed "that Palestinians and Israelis, over the last decade of negotiations, have come a long, long way," and that now it was up to the leaders of both sides to make crucial choices.
Erekat recalled that the talks with US special Mideast envoy George Mitchell started where the talks between acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ended.
"The Americans cannot make peace for us. Americans cannot make the concessions that are required by Palestinians or Israelis. Americans cannot make decisions for Palestinians and Israelis," said Erekat.
Proximity talks come "when two sides exhaust everything….Then comes a third party to do four tasks: to go between, to facilitate, to arbitrate and to mediate, but in the end it is up to the two parties to make the decision," he said.
On security arrangements under a final agreement, Erekat said that "limited arms does not mean limited dignity. We will not accept Israeli presence in the Palestinian state."
The senior diplomat warned that the Palestinian people’s patience was running out. "If you want to maintain the position of occupier under a different name, it won’t happen."