PA expects written reply from Netanyahu
Published Saturday 21/04/2012 (updated) 22/04/2012 21:00
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah expects Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond in a written letter to the missive he received from President Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah official said Saturday.
Muhammad Ishtayya, a member of the party’s Central Committee, told Ma'an the Israeli side tends to negotiate only verbally, and the last time they responded in a written letter was in 2000 during Camp David with the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.
Ishtayya, who is also a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, added that over the past 12 years the Israelis have avoided presenting any written response to the Palestinians even during the recent exploratory negotiations in Amman.
“The Israelis have been talking, but without submitting anything written,” he said.
The message in Abbas’ letter to the Israelis, according to Ishtayya, is that the status quo cannot continue and that Netanyahu has an opportunity to use Abbas’ letter to resume negotiations after he halts settlements, accepts clear terms of reference and demonstrates honest intentions.
“Any political path can’t make success without taking into account elements of building confidence,” he said.
Ishtayya says he doesn’t expect an encouraging response from the Israelis, as Abbas has met with Netanyahu three times without receiving any encouraging offer. Israel, he said, knows what the Palestinian side wants to resume peace talks.
“As Netanyahu is going ahead with settlement activities, the impression is that the response to Abbas' letter will be negative. Had Netanyahu believed in halting settlement activities, he would have imposed that on his party and his cabinet, but the current Israeli government doesn’t have a political agenda or negotiation agenda,” added Ishtayya.
The official highlighted that the PA knows what to do if the Israelis respond negatively. “One choice is to go to the UN once again seeking recognition of Palestinian statehood after all the doors are shut.”