Palestinian PM dismisses peace talk chances

Palestinians don't believe Israel is ready to agree acceptable terms for a two state solution

Jerusalem

Palestine's Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has dimmed Western hopes that a flurry of diplomacy next week could restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by saying that "conditions are not right" to get back into talks.

The declaration by one of the most prominent Palestinian moderates is a blow to the international Middle East Quartet of the US, EU, Russia and the UN, and its envoy Tony Blair, who arrives in Jerusalem next week in an attempt to breathe new life into a badly faltering peace process.

Mr Fayyad told a dinner hosted by the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington that talks now would simply generate "defensiveness" on both sides that would lead to a "mutual blame game".

While stressing that he and his colleagues still wanted meaningful negotiations, Mr Fayyad was reflecting deep Palestinian scepticism that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to agree acceptable terms for a two state solution.

Mr Fayyad also reinforced the gravity of the breakdown in trust with a clear warning that without real progress towards a Palestinian state, the alternative could be pressure for a single state.

"All we want is a sovereign and sustainable state on 22 per cent of the land. That's what we want. We want freedom from Israel, not the right to vote in Israel. If that doesn't happen, who will be able to prevent this conflict from turning into a struggle for equal voting rights [for Palestinians in Israel]?" The Quartet had hoped the Palestinians and Israelis would take part together in a meeting with Mr Blair and its envoys next week. Instead it will now hold separate meetings with negotiators from both sides hoping to get each to set out its positions on borders and security within three months.

Mr Netanyahu's office on Tuesday expressed "regret that there would not now be direct talks between the parties". But Mr Fayyad urged his audience on Wednesday night not to be "misled" by such statements, saying: "It's precisely because those talks happened so many times before but not on a basis of terms of reference that are really consistent with what is required to bring this conflict to an end..."

Palestinian negotiators, who have been calling for a freeze on Israeli settlement building, have been infuriated by Israel's latest plans for 1,000 new homes in the Jewish Jerusalem area settlement of Gilo and plans for what amounts to a new settlement next to the city's Arab neighbourhood of Beit Safafa.

An editorial in the liberal daily Haaretz strongly criticising the plans said that at a time when the prisoner exchange "is raising the stock of Hamas in the eyes of Palestinians... the Netanyahu government is making an effort to depict Fatah, committed to reaching a negotiated agreement with Israel, as devoid of purpose".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'