Palestinians Say They’d Accept Preliminary Agreement

BEIT JALLA (AP) -

The chief Palestinian peace negotiator on Wednesday said the Palestinians are ready to extend the current talks with Israel beyond an April deadline if there is a framework agreement in place.

The comments by Saeb Erekat marked the first time the Palestinians have endorsed the U.S. idea of seeking a preliminary — not final — peace deal.

Erekat said that based on the July 29 start of negotiations, they are to end on April 29. “We are not talking about a peace treaty on the 29th of April. We are talking about a framework agreement,” he told journalists.

He described a framework deal as a comprehensive agreement that could be turned into a detailed peace treaty in six to 12 months.

Asked whether the Palestinians would continue the talks if that could be achieved, Erekat said: “Absolutely.”

“If we reach a framework agreement that specifies the borders, the percentage of swaps, the security arrangements, the Yerushalayim status, refugees, then that is the skeleton,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office had no immediate comment.