Erekat Warns Obama: Netanyahu Gov't Doesn't Want Peace
(IsraelNN.com) Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, has raised the alarm in Washington D.C. against the incoming Netanyahu government.
Erekat wrote in an editorial column published in Saturday's edition of The Washington Post that Israel's commitment to peace is in doubt, while it is being made a priority by U.S. President Barack Obama as part of America's "more integrated approach" to Middle East policy.
"Peace is not a word that sits comfortably with the Israeli right, which will dominate Israel's new government, even with Labor's decision this week to join it," he wrote.
Taking a swipe at the new coalition, Erekat added, "Among its ranks are those who have long opposed peace with Palestinians, no matter the cost; who use the cover of religion to advocate extremist views and who have supported the expulsion of Palestinians or now devise loyalty tests to achieve the same result."
The PA negotiator bitterly noted that incoming Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu has proposed an "economic peace" rather than accept the notion of a two-state solution from the outset, but Erekat stopped short of issuing an open ultimatum. "Palestinians have not engaged in years of negotiations to see them fail. But neither is our patience unlimited," he warned.
Among the list of "musts" that Israel is expected to comply with – ending with the establishment of a PA state based on the pre-1967 borders -- is "an immediate and complete freeze on settlement activity, including all natural growth and the construction of Israel's '[security] wall."
The PA chief negotiator warns that "without a settlement freeze, there will be no two-state solution left to speak of."
Accuses Israel of 'Crippling Regime of Closures'
Erekat also slammed Israel's "crippling regime of closures" and called for Jerusalem to remove all security restrictions that have reduced terrorism in the country.
"Checkpoints, Israel's wall, the permit system it imposes on Palestinians and other restrictions on movement frustrate Palestinian life, fragment Palestinian society and strangle our economy,"
Erekat also cited the "urgent need to reopen Gaza's border crossings to allow the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, especially desperately needed humanitarian supplies and reconstruction materials."
Gaza Crossings: Open or Closed?
Jerusalem-based spokesman Chris Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) also contends that Israel is choking the people of Gaza.
"The needs in Gaza remain immense and the urgent priority is and will continue to be building materials," Gunness told Israel National News in an email interview last week. "Karni is not open for imports, exports and humanitarian goods in an unrestricted sense according to the Access and Movement agreement of November 15th 2005."
When asked whether there was anything other than building materials that is desperately needed and not being allowed in to the region, Gunness replied, "You saw all the coverage of pasta and tomato paste?"
The comment was a reference to a complaint by a U.S. Senator several months ago over the omission of pasta on the list of approved products for shipment of humanitarian supplies in to Gaza. Israel has since allowed it to enter Gaza.