It’s been an eventful few hours in the protracted, half-earnest peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Yesterday, Israel announced and then quickly retracted a plan to build an unfathomable number of settlement units in the West Bank. American officials did some hand-wringing, Palestinian officials threatened to quit the peace process, and now, even with the plans rescinded, the Palestinian negotiating team has reportedly quit.
The development would mark a new low point for the talks with Israel that resumed in July and which officials from both sides have said have made little headway.
In an interview with Egyptian CBC television, [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas suggested the negotiations would continue even if the Palestinian delegation stuck to its decision.
“Either we can convince it to return, and we’re trying with them, or we form a new delegation,” he said.
There’s a lot to unpack here. This is at least the second time that the Palestinian negotiating team has tried to resign from the talks in protest. Also, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat threatened to quit yesterday if the Israeli plans to build were executed.
Shortly after the publication of the tenders, Erekat said he had called the United States, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League to voice his protest.
“I informed them that if Israel implements this decision, then this means the end of the negotiations and the end of the peace process,” he said.
Meanwhile, following a terrorist attack today near Afula, in which an IDF soldier was reportedly stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager, some right-leaning Israeli politicians are calling on an end to the peace talks as well.