A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation has set out his view of the meeting to be held between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman today (Tuesday, 3 January). Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Quartet-led meeting aims to "compel the Israeli government to abide by the international legitimacy, including the road map, which implies a complete freeze on settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories."
In a media conference in Ramallah before leaving for the Jordanian capital, Dr. Erekat said that the Palestinian side has never been against negotiations. He expressed his hope that the Israeli government will recognise the importance of the Jordanians calling for this meeting to be held.
"We have presented our positions including those related to the borders and security, as stipulated by the Quartet statement," said Erekat. "We will go to the meeting with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Israel's representative Yitzhak Molcho but there are issues that need decisions from the Israeli government as a start." That, he added, includes an announcement of the cessation of settlement activity.
Erekat insisted that the issue of prisoners will be on top of the Palestinian list of priorities. "There was an agreement between President Mahmoud Abbas and the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stating that in the case of the release of Gilad Shalit many Palestinian prisoners will be released, particularly those who were arrested and tried before 1994." The United States, the European Union and Russia are aware of this agreement, he said, calling upon Israel to "stop confusing conditions and obligations".