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Shaath: PA wiling to resume talks on basis on 1967 borders
Palestinian official says PA will return to negotiating table if Netanyahu agrees to negotiate on basis of 1967 lines or if Israel freezes settlement construction
RAMALLAH – The Palestinian Authority will return to the negotiating table if Israel agrees to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders or freeze settlements and free `political prisoners`, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Thursday.
Speaking with reporters in Ramallah, Shaath said, `We`re not demanding that settlers be removed, just that settlements not be expanded. At the current building rate in the West Bank, there won`t be a Palestinian state left.`
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would be willing to launch direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions in order to reach a historic agreement that would end the conflict.
Speaking to reporters in Warsaw he declared,`Israel is ready for the resumption of direct negotiations for peace without preconditions. I think it is time to stop squabbling over preconditions. I think we have to start peace talks immediately. My goal is to see a historic compromise that ends the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians once and for all.`
`I believe that these are the elements for peace. I don`t pose them as preconditions for negotiations. I look forward to enter those negotiations without preconditions without delay. I am ready for such a peace. I hope the Palestinians are ready too,` Netanyahu declared.
Shaath on his part said that if the status quo persists, there might be a wave of resistance. `We can’t guarantee we would be able to prevent another intifada,` he said. `We doing the utmost to prevent a violent uprising but an intifada doesn`t have to be violent. It`s a reaction against the status quo. We want to preserve our people`s hopes.`
Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habash said in the Ramallah meeting, `We have no other preconditions. Give us some assurance that (the talks) won`t fail. If we fail this time, there will be no more talks.`
Al-Habash added that Israel`s planned changes in the Temple Mount are unacceptable. `Any change in the Temple Mount is unacceptable to the Palestinians or Arabs. I believe that such a change will push us toward a new conflict,` he said.
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