Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would be the first to negotiate with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but only if the latter would cease construction in the settlements and recognize the 1967 borders of a Palestinian state, Israel Radio reported Wednesday, quoting Qatari newspapers.
Abbas also said that Netanyahu's recent statements following his visit to Cairo, in which the Israeli premier called for the resumption of peace talks, were vague and needed clarification.
Speaking at the Sheraton Doha, Abbas was quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times commenting on the failed reconciliation attempts with Hamas, explaining that negotiators from the rival faction had kept asking for last-minute amendments in what was an attempt to halt the reconciliation process.
"Going through the whole gamut of things again means a delay of another two years and that is what Hamas wants," he said.
Abbas added that he "welcomed" mediation by any Arab country to solve the standoff between the rival Palestinian movements, but insisted that any deal must be signed in Egypt. "The national dialogue started in Egypt and must end there," Gulf Times quoted Abbas as saying.
The Palestinian leader also justified Egypt's construction of a steel wall that along its border with the Gaza Strip. Cairo has the "full right to protect its territory and prevent smuggling of illegal materials into Gaza," he said. "It is a sovereign and political decision of the Egyptian government and we understand that," Abbas added, reminding attendants of "the reasons for the Gaza siege.
It is, in fact, the coup that Hamas staged that created all the problems for Gaza's residents," he said.
On the negotiations for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Abbas said he welcomed the release of any Palestinian prisoner, "even if Hamas took credit for it."