PLO Condemns Israeli Decision to End Talks, UN Envoy Supports Unity

The Palestine Liberation Organization on Thursday condemned Israel’s decision to withdraw from peace negotiations earlier in the day as “blatantly disingenuous,” saying that the decision shows a “lack of commitment” toward peace.

The statement comes as the UN special envoy for negotiations “welcomed” word of the Palestinian unity deal, which Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas assured him would entail the honoring of previous PLO commitments including the recognition of Israel.

The executive committee of the PLO said in a statement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “announcement to end negotiations only reaffirms his lack of commitment towards a just settlement and the two-state solution.”

The PLO also accused the Israeli government of “persistently trying to sabotage international and Palestinian efforts to achieve an agreement” by breaking its commitments, particularly through the “killing of Palestinians, settlement construction, home demolitions, and the siege over Gaza and over occupied East Jerusalem.”

“Trying to blame President Abbas for Israel’s decision to end negotiations is simply an absurd excuse for a government that places settlements and colonial expansion as priorities over peace,” the PLO said.

The PLO added that despite being “legitimate and legal,” Palestinian unity was considered a “threat” by Netanyahu and his “extremist government coalition” because it is “a step that takes us closer to inclusiveness, freedom and independence.”

Executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in the statement that the “national reconciliation and negotiations are not mutually exclusive but are rather mandatory steps in order to achieve a just and lasting peace based on international law.”

She added that the “terms of the national reconciliation agreement are clear: Palestine honors its commitments, respects international law and continues its popular nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation.”

The statement comes hours after Israel announced that it would be suspending its participation in peace talks with the Palestinians which have been ongoing since July in protest against a national reconciliation agreement between the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas that was announced on Wednesday.

The agreement brought to end seven years of Palestinian political division, but Israeli authorities said they would refuse to negotiate with Hamas, which they say refuses to recognize Israel.

‘Only way to reunite West Bank and Gaza’

The United Nations special coordinator for the peace process Robert Serry said in a statement on Thursday, however, that Abbas had promised the unity agreement would be implemented “on the basis of the PLO commitments,” including “recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements.”

Serry said that he “welcomed” the national reconciliation agreement, stressing that it was the “only way to reunite the West Bank and Gaza under one legitimate Palestinian Authority.”

The statement followed a meeting with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in which the UN “confirmed support for unity” on the basis of the Palestinians’ “continued commitment to peace negotiations and to non-violent popular protests,” which Abbas assured him would be a part of the unity deal.

Although Hamas has historically taken a strong stance against negotiations with Israel under present circumstances, it has previously said that it would be willing to accept a two-state solution on the 1967 borders.

Israel, however, considers the Palestinian political party — which has controlled the Gaza Strip since clashes with Fatah a year after Hamas won elections over the entire Palestinian territories — of being a “terrorist” organization.

(Ma’an and agencies – www.maannews.net)

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