Palestinian FM: Atmosphere of talks 'negative'

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki: "The negotiations atmosphere is negative due to irresponsible decisions taken by Israel to build thousands of settlement units."

Palestinian FM: Atmosphere of talks 'negative'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has described the atmosphere of peace negotiations with Israel as "negative", saying that the Palestinians would join international organizations if the peace talks collapsed.

"The negotiations atmosphere is negative due to irresponsible decisions taken by Israel to build thousands of settlement units," al-Maliki told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority resumed US-sponsored peace talks with Israel in July following a three-year hiatus.

Palestinians insist that Israeli settlement building must cease before a comprehensive final-status agreement can be reached.

But prospects of reaching a peace deal have been gloomed by Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

On Monday, Israel's Civil Administration approved construction of 800 new housing units for Jewish-only settlements and outposts in the occupied territory.

The top Palestinian diplomat said that US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the occupied Palestinian lands soon to advance the peace talks with Israel.

"He will find a full support from us," al-Maliki said. "Let's see what he will bring with him."

Talks between the Palestinians and Israel generally take place behind closed doors, with results of negotiations seldom divulged to the media.

Al-Maliki said the Palestinians will join international agencies in case of the collapse of peace talks with Israel.

"We are ready for this," he told AA. "We have prepared everything for this move."

The top diplomat said that the Palestinians want to give a chance for US efforts to render the peace negotiations a success to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state.

"But if the negotiations failed, we would have no other option but to join these organizations and agencies," he added.

Arafat probe

Al-Maliki called for an international tribunal into the death of late president Yasser Arafat.

"President Abbas talked with the Arab League chief about activating previous Arab resolutions about holding an international tribunal into Arafat's death," he told AA.

Arafat died at the age of 75 in France under suspicious circumstances. At the time, doctors were unable to determine the exact cause of his death.

But a team of Swiss experts revealed last week that "unexpectedly high" traces of polonium-210, a highly radioactive substance, had been discovered in Arafat's exhumed remains.

Palestinians have long accused Israel of being behind the iconic leader's death.

Al-Maliki called on the international community to pile pressures on Israel to lift a years-long siege on the Gaza Strip.

"The international community bears the responsibility for this siege," he said.

The Gaza Strip, home to nearly two million Palestinians, have been reeling under a crippling Israeli siege since Hamas was voted to power in 2006.

The blockade was tightened by Israel after Hamas seized power in the strip following a deadly fighting with rival Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Maliki called for ending the Palestinian rifts between the rival Hamas and Fatah groups.

"Hamas has to give priority to national interests," he said, arguing that the group – an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood – has been dragging feet on reconciliation since the Brotherhood came to Egypt's power.

"But they now feel that they are not in a strong position since what happened in Egypt," he said, in reference to the ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi in July by the military establishment.

The Foreign Minister has described relations with Turkey as "excellent".

"We have strong and cordial relations and there are always cooperation and exchange of opinions," he said.

The minister went on to say that the Palestinian relations with Turkey are "stronger" than with neighboring countries.

"Turkey is supporting Palestine," he said. "Top Turkish officials, including President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu, have always said that the Palestinian interests are Turkey's."

Last Mod: 27 Kasım 2013, 10:03
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