Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
RAMALLAH, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian National Authority (PNA) officials rejected on Saturday what they termed as "the Israeli attempts to link between opening Gaza crossings and the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit."
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement that "linking between the two subjects is a clear breach of the Egyptian ceasefire initiative and the U.S.-brokered agreement to operate Gaza crossings of 2005."
Israel has been closing Gaza Strip border crossings after Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections. It tightened the blockade on Gaza after the Islamic movement took control of the enclave by force in 2007.
In June 2006, Hamas armed wing and two other minor Gaza armed groups captured Israeli army corporal Gilad Shalit in an armed attack on an Israeli army base outside southeast Gaza Strip borders with Israel.
Erekat made the statements in a meeting on Saturday with European diplomats in West Bank. The discussions focused on a ceasefire in Gaza and reopening Gaza Strip border crossings.
"Renewing the truce with Israel has to go in parallel with reopening all Gaza Strip crossings and allowing the basic humanitarian needs for the population and the raw-material for rebuilding Gaza," said Erekat.
Erekat also stressed that the priority of President Mahmoud Abbas "is to achieve a reconciliation among the Palestinians and form a national unity government to end the split between Gaza and West Bank."
Asked about the peace talks with Israel, Erekat said that "re-launching the peace process needs an Israeli commitment to end all its activities in the settlements, stop building the wall and remove all barriers and checkpoints."