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Palestinians say Israel holding up talks

Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian spokesman, tells the press that he will not be a minister in the new Palestinian government outside Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia office in Ramallah, West Bank, February 24, 2005. (UPI File Photo/Debbie Hill)
Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian spokesman, tells the press that he will not be a minister in the new Palestinian government outside Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia office in Ramallah, West Bank, February 24, 2005. (UPI File Photo/Debbie Hill) | License Photo

JERUSALEM, July 13 (UPI) -- The Palestinians' chief negotiator says direct peace talks can resume once Israel halts settlement activity and agrees to discuss permanent status issues.

In an interview with Turkish television, Saeb Erekat accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of obstructing the Mideast peace process, Israel's Haaretz news reported Tuesday.

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"The Israelis have a choice, settlements or peace," Erekat said. "They can't have both."

Erekat said once Netanyahu stops settlement activity and agrees to permanent status talks, Palestinians will return to the bargaining table.

"The minute he stops settlement activities, including natural growth in Jerusalem, the minute he agrees to go to permanent status talks where we left them in December 2008, we'll have direct talks," Erekat said.

He said Palestinian negotiators have submitted a list of their positions on all permanent status issues to U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell.

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