Palestinians: Israel must accept ’67 border as basis for talks

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinian officials said they would not resume peace negotiations unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts President Obama’s 1967 border guidelines.

"If Netanyahu agrees, we shall turn over a new leaf," Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator in peace talks, was quoted as saying Sunday in Ynet. "If he doesn’t, then there is no point talking about a peace process. We’re saying it loud and clear."

Erekat, a member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party central committee, repeated similar statements to the KUNA Kuwaiti news agency and others that were rebroadcast on Israel Radio.

“Once Netanyahu says that the negotiations will lead to a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, then everything will be set,” Erekat said, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

On May 19, in a speech at the State Department on his Middle East policy, Obama called for peace negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders with mutually agreed upon land swaps.

Erekat said that Israel showed it had rejected Obama’s premise of negotiation from the 1967 borders when it approved the construction of 1,500 housing units in eastern Jerusalem a day before Netanyahu left for the United States.

On Sunday, in an address to the pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama said his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines did not mean the future state of Palestine would have those exact borders.

“By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama told AIPAC’s annual policy conference.

Netanyahu is due to address the AIPAC conference on Monday and the U.S. Congress the following day.

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