Abbas: Peace talks can't resume without settlement freeze
LAST UPDATED: 05/18/2011 17:42
PA president tells US diplomats that "the Israeli government's refusal to stop settlement building and to determine clear references for the peace process were the reason that talks have stopped."
Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh Photo: REUTERS
talks with Israel cannot resume without ending settlement construction
and determining a framework to guide negotiations, Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday in a statement published by
Palestinian news agency WAFA, Al Ahram online reported.
"The Israeli government's refusal to
stop settlement building and to determine clear references for the peace
process were the reason that talks have stopped," Abbas said in the
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met with US Deputy of State James Steinberg and US Assistant Secretary
of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and briefed them on the
Hamas-Fatah unity agreement.
For the first time since taking office more than two years ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening publicly indicated that Israel might withdraw from areas of the West Bank not included in the major settlement blocs.
agree that we have to keep the settlement blocs. There is broad
consensus that the settlement blocs must remain within the State of
Israel,” Netanyahu said. Israel was willing to make compromises for
peace, he said.
“These compromises are painful, because we are
talking about parts of our homeland. It’s not a foreign country. It is
the land of our forefathers and we have historical rights here, and not
just security interests,” he said.
In a major diplomatic address
to the Knesset, the prime minister laid out the diplomatic platform for
peace with the Palestinians that he is likely to present in Washington
in three separate events: a meeting on Friday with US President Barack
Obama, a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on
Monday, and an address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
sources, meanwhile, are anticipating that Obama will strike a
nonconfrontational tone with Israel in a Middle East speech on Thursday,
as well as in his meeting with Netanyahu.
Tovah Lazaroff, Khaled Abu Toameh, Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.