Palestinian negotiators resign from talks

Nov. 14, 2013 at 7:40 AM
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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Palestinian peace negotiators have resigned, citing ongoing settlement construction and lack of progress in talks with Israel, officials said.

A Palestinian official told the Ma'an News Agency there are no immediate plans to hold new talks with Israel. Israeli and Palestinian teams have held some 17 meetings in Jerusalem and Jericho since talks resumed in July, but failed to make any breakthrough.

In an interview with the Egyptian TV station CBC, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh tendered their resignations 10 days ago. He did not indicate whether he would accept them, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Suggesting the Palestinians may wait out the entire nine-month framework before taking action, Abbas told the Post: "We can't say there has been any progress [in the talks]. We will wait for nine months [to expire] and afterwards we are free to do what we want."

Abbas said he would try to convince the negotiators to return or would form a new team.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set up a nine-month framework to reach a peace agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday ordered the Housing Ministry to halt plans to build some 24,000 housing units in the West Bank and the E1 area that links Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said the construction of housing units would only serve to create unnecessary conflict with the international community at a time the focus should be on Iran.

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