Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Azzam al Ahmed, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Committee, said the so-called Quartet has proposed extending the deadline set for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to the extension on certain conditions, al Ahmed said on Voice of Palestine radio without elaborating.
Al Ahmed didn’t say how long an extension the Quartet is seeking for the exploratory talks currently being held in Jordan between Israeli and Palestinian officials aimed at getting peace negotiations back on track. The current deadline is Jan. 26.
The Quartet, that includes the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, is accelerating efforts to get the sides to return to negotiations that broke down in September 2010 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew a 10-month freeze on settlement-building and Abbas ruled out negotiations while West Bank construction continues.
Al Ahmed’s comments about the Quartet proposal to extend the talks between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Molcho, followed an Israel Radio report that a meeting between the two on Jan. 21 made no progress.
Israeli press officials weren’t immediately available to respond to al Ahmed’s comments about the Quartet proposal.
In a proposal criticized by Erakat, Netanyahu yesterday suggested building homes for Jewish settlers on state-owned land in the West Bank to replace houses in the adjacent outpost of Migron, which a court has declared illegal.
Netanyahu’s government said 10 months ago that all outposts such as Migron that were built illegally on private Palestinian land would be removed by the end of 2011. Army efforts to evacuate the outposts have led to violent conflicts with settlers. Migron is home to about 50 families and isn’t among the approximately 100 settlements in the West Bank that have been authorized by the Israeli government.
“The settlements are illegal but Netanyahu is using this to try to legalize them at a time when he is being criticized by the whole world,” Erakat said in a telephone interview.
--With assistance from Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem. Editors: Ann Hughey, Steve Geimann.
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