Palestinians rule out extending peace talks
Ramallah: Palestinian leaders have ruled out the possibility of extending peace talks with Israel beyond their nine-month time frame, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Monday.
"We turn down any extension," Erakat told the official Voice of Palestine radio station, adding that some of his recent remarks about the matter had been misinterpreted.
"I said that if we reach an agreement on all final status issues, we could continue to discuss the details," he said.
At a dinner with journalists on Wednesday, Erakat had raised the possibility of talks being prolonged for up to a year if parties agree on key issues by the time the current talks wrap up on April 29.
The US State Department welcomed his statement, while saying the nine-month schedule still remained in place.
At an Arab League meeting in Cairo yesterday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas "stressed his rejection of all partial and temporary solutions and that the solution should resolve all final status issues, within nine months which cannot be extended, expiring April 29," said Erakat.
During this meeting, the pan-Arab bloc gave "its full support to the Palestinian position," the Palestinian negotiator told the radio station on the phone from Qatar.
Outgoing Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Thursday that the talks "are not going to take us anywhere".
"The Israelis want to replace occupation by force with occupation by an invitation, with our signature, and it will never happen," he added, calling on the international community to intensify pressure on Israel.
Palestinian negotiators have repeatedly warned it would be impossible to continue talks if Israel keeps on demolishing Palestinian homes and constructing settlements.
US Secretary of State John Kerry managed to revive the Israeli-Palestinian talks on July 29 after a three-year hiatus.
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