Chief Palestinian Authority Negotiator Fumes Over Israel’s Approval of West Bank Construction
The Palestinian Authority is reportedly outraged by the Israeli government’s decision on Friday to approve tenders for 1,400 new housing units in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, Israeli daily Walla reported on Saturday.
Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the PA, told a French news agency that, “By building new settlements [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu has sent a clear message to [U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry: ‘Do not return to the region to continue the peace talk efforts between Israel and the Palestinians'”.
According to Erekat, the announced construction of 801 new units in existing large Jewish communities located over the Green Line – including 227 in Efrat, 169 in Elkana and 40 in Ariel – is a deliberate effort by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sabotage John Kerry’s peace efforts. “Every time Kerry steps up his efforts to facilitate the peace talks, Netanyahu steps up his efforts to destroy the peace process. Netanyahu is determined to destroy the two-state solution,” Erekat stated. “It is time that Israel be held responsible for the crimes that it has committed.”
The publication of the approved tenders on Friday came just four days after Kerry left the Middle East. Netanyahu had previously rejected Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel’s earlier publication of approved tenders for construction due to the Secretary of State’s pending visit. According to Walla, Netanyahu delayed the approval of the construction tenders so as to prevent friction between Washington and Jerusalem.