PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat today discussed the announcement of early Israeli elections (with officials putting a likely January 15 date on them), saying he is concerned that the ruling coalition will escalate moves against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as a political maneuver.
Erekat said he believes that the outgoing government is likely to escalate the expansion of settlements in the West Bank as well as approve major new moves toward the “Judaization” of the Palestinian portions of East Jerusalem.
Erekat’s assessment is likely reasonable, as many of the parties in the current far-right government will be running on a platform of settlement expansion and the continued forestalling of the peace process, and will likely be trying to “out-hawk” one another on the West Bank ahead of the vote, courting the settler vote.
The negotiator insisted, however, that the PLO would not change any of its positions because of the announcement, that they intend to not interfere in the vote and that they will continue to pursue recognition as a “non-member state” at the UN General Assembly.
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