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Palestinian official: Israeli settlements are main obstacle to peace

February 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said on Monday that Israeli settlements are the main obstacle before efforts to revive the peace process, and that the Palestinian Authority is prepared to join 63 international organisations and conventions but is holding back to give Kerry’s efforts a chance.

Speaking at a meeting of a committee concerned with Palestinians exercising their inalienable rights in New York, Erekat said: “In total 6,000 Israeli settlements have been approved between 2009 and 2012. This is an average of 11 settlement units every day.”

Erekat noted that the number of Israeli settlers in Jerusalem has increased at three times the normal rate of Israeli population growth.

Since November 2012 when Palestine received non-member state status at the UN, according to Erekat, 11,500 settlement units have been bided for and approved.

The member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation also pointed out the increasing levels of Israeli settler violence against the Palestinians stating that settler violence has increased by 315 per cent.

“When I speak about settler violence, I mean terrorist acts practised by criminals who kill innocents and burn trees, mosques and churches under the protection of the Israeli occupation army,” Erekat said.

The man who has always been described as the dove of peace described the situation faced by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as worse than what went on during the apartheid era in South Africa.

“There are a number of streets in the West Bank that we do not have an access to,” he said. “It is used only by Israelis.”

Meanwhile, Erekat said Israelis always put the reasons for intolerance or racism down to security reasons.

While in New York, AP reported Erekat as saying that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has completed all measures necessary to apply for membership to 63 international organisations, conventions and treatises. However, it prefers to wait until it sees the results of the US efforts to revive the peace process.