Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his refusal on
Wednesday to resume peace talks unless Israel halts construction in east
Jerusalem and the West Bank, releases Palestinian prisoners and accepts the
two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.
Abbas, who met in
Ramallah with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss ways of
reviving the peace process, said he would be prepared to return to the
negotiations if Israel met those three conditions.
Abbas told the US
emissary that he was not setting preconditions for resuming the peace talks, but
was only demanding that Israel fulfill its obligations under the terms of the
2003 road map peace plan.
During the meeting, Abbas complained that
Israeli “intransigence” was responsible for the continued stalemate in the peace
process. He urged the US administration to exert pressure on Israel to halt
construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem as a first step toward
reviving the peace negotiations.
A PA official in Ramallah told The
following the meeting that Burns did not carry any new ideas that
could pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.
expressed doubt that the Obama administration would be able to put pressure on
Israel in light of the upcoming presidential elections in the US.
don’t expect a breakthrough before the US elections,” the PA official
said. “[US] President Barack Obama is not in a position to exert any kind
of pressure on Israel because he’s afraid of losing the votes of American
An Israeli official urged Abbas not to place a stumbling block in
front of the negotiations by insisting on preconditions.
“He can call
them what he wants,” the official said, “they are preconditions. He should take
them off the table.” He noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was willing
to meet with Abbas at any time in any place without preconditions.
wants to play the obligation game, then the Palestinians have their own
obligations,” the official said. “The Palestinians can be questioned very
seriously about the implementation of their obligations concerning disarming
terrorists, fighting incitement, unilaterally changing the status of the land
and resolving issues through negotiations.”
Burns is in Israel and the
Palestinian territories as part of a high-level security delegation that will
hold a meeting with Israeli officials in the Foreign Ministry on
Thursday. Among them are experts on Iran and Syria.
He will also
hold a joint press conference with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on
Thursday morning. His trip comes in advance of a visit by US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton next Monday.