The peace process is clinically dead and Israel bears full responsibility, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared Sunday.
“The ball is in the Israeli court,” Abbas said in a speech at a conference on Jerusalem that was held in Ramallah.
The Palestinians, he added, have fulfilled all their obligations in line with international agreements.
Abbas also accused Israel of working to destroy the two-state solution through its settlement policy.
“We have emphasized that we are in favor of the two-state solution and reaching a settlement through negotiations,” he said. “The negotiations should lead to recognition of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the 1967 borders.”
Abbas’s comments came as chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat was preparing to leave for Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ways of reviving the stalled peace talks with Israel.
A PA official said that Erekat would reiterate the Palestinian conditions for resuming the peace talks: a cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
“Erekat will demand that the US administration exert pressure on the Israeli government to stop construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem,” the official told The Jerusalem Post.
The official said that the Israeli government’s policy on settlements was “endangering the peace process and playing into the hands of the enemies of peace.”
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said Sunday that the PA president was prepared to meet with Netanyahu if the latter released Palestinian prisoners who were imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords and allowed the PA to import weapons and equipment for its security forces in the West Bank.
Abu Rudanieh said the PA leadership still has not decided to resume its effort to achieve UN recognition of a Palestinian state. He told the Bethlehembased Ma’an news agency that the Palestinians would decide on the matter after consulting with Arab countries.
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA leadership would also wait to see if the US would present new ideas to revive the peace process during Erekat’s visit to Washington this week.
“We want real American pressure that would force Israel to halt settlement construction,” the spokesman said.
“But if Israel doesn’t present anything, we will ultimately go to the UN.”
Abu Rudaineh said that Kadima Party chairman Shaul Mofaz has asked to meet with Abbas. No date has been set for the meeting, which will not take place this month anyway, Abu Rudaineh said.
He said that such a meeting, when and if it takes place, would not mean that the Palestinians have agreed to resume the peace negotiations with Israel. “We don’t refuse to meet with any Israeli official,” he explained.