PLO: Israel’s threat to suspend EU-led peace process is ‘blackmail’
Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), speaks during an interview with AFP at his office in Ramallah on November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
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Secretary-General of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, on Monday accused Israel's Prime Minister of "blackmailing" the international community following a move to suspend contact with the European Union after a decision to label Israeli settlement goods.
"With his latest decision regarding the European Union, Prime Minister Netanyahu insists in blackmailing the international community. His goal is clear: To maintain his culture of impunity in order to continue violating international law," Erekat said.
The senior Palestinian official said Netanyahu's threat to exclude the EU from the peace process is "disingenuous," stating that the Israeli government has repeatedly rejected the two-state solution.
"Israel has violated all signed agreements, stopped negotiations and erased the principles of the two-state solution. Netanyahu’s political program of one state and two systems, Apartheid, is what we have left on the ground," he said.
"Mr. Netanyahu: Because of your policies there is no peace process for anyone to be involved in. Europe will miss nothing with your new public relations campaign."
The EU said following the Israeli government's decision that it would continue to work with the Quartet and other partners on the Middle East Peace process, EU Commission foreign affairs spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said Monday.
A day earlier, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the suspension of contacts with the EU while the ministry "reassesses" the involvement of EU bodies in the peace process.
"Until completion of the reassessment, the prime minister has ordered a suspension of diplomatic contacts with EU bodies and their representatives in this matter," a statement said.
It noted that diplomatic relations with individual countries in the European Union -- specifically naming Germany, Britain and France -- would be unaffected by the decision.
The EU announced measures to label settlement products on Nov. 11, saying that they accorded with pre-existing EU legislation. The measures ensured that settlement goods could no longer be labeled: "Made in Israel."
"Since the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not part of the Israeli territory according to international law, the indication 'product from Israel' is considered to be incorrect and misleading in the sense of the referenced legislation," the EU said at the time.