In reference to the latest reports concerning the resignation of the Palestinian negotiations team from the final status negotiations, the PLO – Negotiations Affairs Department would like to announce the following:
1) Several days ago, Dr. Saeb Erekat and Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh wrote to H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas explaining that they would not be able to continue fulfilling their duties as negotiators, and thereby requesting that the President relieve them of their positions. This request was motivated by a number of factors, including: an unprecedented escalation of colonization and oppression against Palestine and the Palestinian people by the State of Israel; a lack of seriousness from the Israeli government about reaching a two-state solution; and the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill commitments undertaken before the resumption of direct negotiations on July 29th 2013.
2) Of particular concern was the Israeli government’s political use of the release of pre-Oslo prisoners in order to advance its illegal and profoundly damaging settlement enterprise throughout the occupied State of Palestine. This, combined with the false allegation that an agreement between the PLO and Israel was made in order to exchange prisoners for settlements, has demonstrated bad faith and a severe lack of integrity on the Israeli side.
3) The resignation of the Palestinian negotiators was presented after Israel had already approved 6,296 settlement units during the first three months of negotiations. This figure is higher than the total amount of settlement units approved during the five months prior to the resumption of negotiations (5,577 units). The resignation was not presented as a response to the latest announcement by the Israeli Ministry of Housing to advance almost 20,000 settlement units, but as a response to several policies that continue to undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution, including accelerated settlement activity. PM Netanyahu’s call to “reconsider steps for evaluating planning potential” in illegal Israeli settlements does not halt the thousands of units Israel has approved, and continues to approve, in the occupied State of Palestine.
4) This resignation relates only to the current negotiations team: it does not invalidate the commitment made by the Palestine Liberation Organization to continue negotiations until the end of the 9 month period agreed with Israel and the US, which ends on April 29th. 2014.
5) The Palestinian leadership will continue its process of internal consultations and its contacts with the Arab League, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States, along with other international partners, in order to advance the cause for a just peace between Israel and Palestine, which includes ending the 1967 Israeli occupation and reaching a solution to all final status issues based on international law.