Saeb Erekat: Palestinians ready for negotiations if Israel accepts two states

Gaza - MAP - Palestinian Minister of Negotiation Affairs Dr. Saeb Erekat announced on Sunday readiness to resume negotiations with Israel in case it accepted the principle of two independent states, according to 1967 borders.

He added, in remarks to Voice of Palestine Radio, if Israel stops building more settlements, especially in eastern Jerusalem, the Palestinians will negotiate on final-status issues to resolve them according to a timetable.

He indicated at a recent French initiative, proposing 12 months of negotiations on these issues, including refugees, Jerusalem and other topics.

Erekat stressed on the need of the Palestinians to "have the right to rule themselves, while ensuring the security of Israel as a Jewish state, which should have the right to defend itself, like any other state." Erekat, who returned from Washington, three days ago, discussed key issues with U.S. officials during his visit to the US. They included Palestinian reconciliation with Hamas, which is considered as an overriding interest, the aspired peace settlement, and the membership of Palestine in the Unites Nations (UN) according to 1967 borders, and eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that Palestinians are working to form a government with independent members, in order to hold legislative and presidential elections.

Elaborating, he said, "we do not see the meaning of all this chaos about the refusal of reconciliation, because it is the only way for the implementation of the principle of two states with the 1967 borders, and to achieve unity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip." He also alluded to the "rhetoric battle" which took place late last month in Washington between US President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the latter tried to present a new reference for a peace agreement in his speech in the Congress.
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