RAMALLAH, April 13 (Xinhua) -- A senior Palestinian negotiator and a member in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party said on Sunday that there is nothing to encourage the Palestinians to extend the nine-month U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks with Israel, which due to end in late April.
Mohamed Ishtaya, the veteran negotiator and the prominent politician, told Xinhua in a special interview held at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah that "if the resumption of the talks with Israel will be only for talks, I believe that there is no need to extend it."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who sponsors the direct peace talks between the two sides, had failed over the past few weeks to convince them to overcome their differences on releasing long-term prisoners or freezing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israel warned that it would sever ties with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and impose sanctions on the Palestinians, if they apply to join international agencies and treaties.
Kerry proposed an extension of the talks to the end of the year, but the idea was rejected by the Palestinians as long as the Israeli government shows no commitment to the peace process.
Israeli and Palestinian officials had repeatedly announced that the nine-month talks, which started last July and ends in late April, had achieved no progress regarding all the outstanding issues, mainly settlement expansion.
"It is totally true, the last eight or nine months of direct talks had achieved nothing, to the contrary, the gap got larger between the two sides, mainly on the permanent status issues," said Ishtaya, adding "all is linked to the Israeli side's real intensions towards peace, otherwise the talks will be useless."
He accused the Israeli government of inserting new thorny issues that were not part of the permanent status issues such as the recognition of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, adding " the aim of putting this issue was to obstruct any success in the peace process."
"Unfortunately, all Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interest is to keep his government coalition and protect it from collapsing," Ishtaya said, adding "so far all the signals the Palestinian side is receiving from the Israeli side are negative."
The reason behind the crisis in the peace talks is that Israel had refused to free the last agreed-upon batch of 26 long-term prisoners from its jails, although it had already freed 78 prisoners since the beginning of the talks in late July last year.
In response, the Palestinians signed on joining 15 international treaties and announced that they will never hesitate to join all international agencies including the international court in The Hague. Israel in response, threatened the Palestinians of imposing hard sanctions on the PNA.
He stressed that such a policy "was really a clear sign to the Palestinian negotiators that Netanyahu doesn't believe in the principle of the two-state solution based on the borders of 1967 Israeli-Arab war.
"I believe that after April 29, the Palestinian side will keep going with applying to successively join all the international treaties and agencies," said Ishtaya, adding that the international community "is not holding the Palestinians guilty for the failure of the talks."