In an interview to Aljazeera on Tuesday, Palestinian chief negotiator Saib Uraiqat said, "The International Community and the Security Council should force the Israeli government to halt the dangerous military escalation and the massacre being carried out in northern Gaza Strip."

 

"We call on members of the Security Council, including the United States, not to stop using diplomacy to protect and defend our people," Uraiqat said.

 

Israel which launched its huge offensive on Gaza last Tuesday has fired missiles and poured tanks and soldiers into the area in a ruthless exercise of power over the occupied territory.

 

Uraiqat said there had been no contacts between the two sides since Israel launched the widely criticised attack.

 

"We, at the Palestinian Authority, are not against negotiations. On the contrary, we have repeatedly called on Israel to hold talks with us, in order to achieve our commitments towards the road map, starting from a mutual and immediate halt of violence," Uraiqat said.

 

"We are ready to negotiate and achieve what is agreed between Israel and ourselves - from halting a mutual violence, as stated in the road map, to ending the Israeli occupation in force since 1967,"  he said.

 

Talks preferred

 

 

 "The Israeli government should talk to the Palestinian Authority instead of destroying it. It should realise that peace, security and stability will never be achieved except through a peace process," Uraiqat said.

 

 "I'm afraid that Israel's current plan is to repeat what it did in April 2002 in the West Bank, which is, to reoccupy Gaza Strip completely, destroy the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and look for a local leadership in each area, such as a management committee to control Gaza, another one in Nablus, Jericho, etc,"  the Palestinian chief negotiator said.  

 

Israeli attack has resulted in the
deaths of many civlians

"This will never happen. We stick to peace, but it will only be achieved through Israel's withdrawal to its 1967 borders, including Jerusalem, based on resolution 194," he said.

 

Self-defence

 

In the interview Uraiqat also explicitly denied any equivalence between the actions of the warring parties.

 

"According to the international Community, Geneva Convention and the UN resolutions, Israel is the occupying authority. Therefore, self-defence is different from the crimes Israel is committing against our unarmed people,"  Uraiqat said.  

 

"Israel's current actions, including massacres, crimes, assassinations, escalation of violence, closures, siege and settlement activities will lead to nothing but increased violence and chaos and bloodshed not only among the Palestinians but in the whole area,"  he said.

 

Denial

 

Only Arafat authorised to
negotiate with Israel, says aide

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat's National Security Adviser Brigadier Jibril al-Rajub denied there had been any contacts - security or political - with the Israelis to defuse the current situation in the Gaza Strip. 

 

Only President Arafat can hold such negotiations, and there are none at the moment, he told Aljazeera.

 

"Israel knows our phone numbers and addresses. The Israelis know that the Palestinians' address is Yasir Arafat," he said. 

 

If the Israelis want to hold talks on halting the one-sided aggression against the Palestinian people as a starting point to ending their occupation, there will be a positive reaction from our side to achieve a complete mutual ceasefire," al-Rajub said.