By Mick Krever, CNN
Israel and the Palestinians need “to move fast with genuine commitment, not with P.R. statements,” a top Palestinian politician told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
The possibility of direct negotiations now looks more real than it has in years, thanks to the old-fashioned shuttle diplomacy of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Hanan Ashrawi, a long-time Palestinian peace negotiator and a senior member of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), told Amanpour that they were awaiting an invitation from Kerry.
On Monday, the top Israeli negotiator, Tzipi Livni, told Amanpour that she “deeply” supported negotiations and an end to conflict.
“It's not a favor to the Palestinians nor to the E.U. and not even to the President of the United States,” Livni said. “It is our own interest.”
Past talks have often fallen apart over “preconditions” set by negotiators – among them that Israel freeze settlement building or that the Palestinians be granted a “right of return” to their erstwhile houses now within Israeli territory.
“This term ‘conditions’ has been used constantly to discredit the Palestinians as though we’re doing something wrong,” Ashrawi contended. “When you enter negotiations, you do not enter by relinquishing your people's rights and destroying your credibility with your own people. These are rights that are enshrined in international law.”
Ashrawi said that any future negotiations should be based on the framework that has been built up over decades of talks between the two sides.
“We cannot reinvent the wheel,” she said, “every time a new government comes and wants to negate the agreed-upon basis of negotiations.”