Palestinians: PLO statement does not Close Door on Negotiations
Palestinians did not close the door on the peace process with Israel when the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Council decided to declare independence September 13th, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.
"I do not think it closes any doors. I think it really wants to give a chance to the peace process and seriousness to the peace process," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
"We need to continue negotiations in order to achieve the implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions," he added.
Erakat was referring to Resolutions 242 and 338, which call on Israel to withdraw from territory occupied in the 1967 war with neighboring Arab states.
However, Israeli foreign minister David Levy said Tuesday that the PLO Central Council's decision to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally means the Palestinians withdrew from the peace process and all obligations they have towards it.
"The unilateral decision on Palestinian statehood means, in effect, a Palestinian withdrawal from the peace process and a departure from all their obligations under it," Levy told the parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee.
Late Monday, the 129-member PLO council vowed to declare an independent state September 13th, the last date in the interim period set by peace accords.
Israel has repeatedly warned of violence in the Palestinian areas if statehood is declared without an agreement, and the United States said after the PLO's declaration that it opposes any unilateral steps in the peace process.
Israel and the Palestinians have been discussing the prospects of holding a summit with US President Bill Clinton in late July to hammer out a framework agreement on the key outstanding issues in the conflict.
Clinton spoke to Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak late Monday about the summit.
Israeli officials said they expected Clinton to make a declaration about the summit in the coming days - GAZA CITY (AFP)
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