311_ Abed Rabbo, Abbas and Erekat.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Israel prefers settlements to peace because of its refusal to halt settlement
construction and return to the peace talks with the Palestinians, Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.
Abbas, who was speaking
during a meeting in his office with a South African delegation, said that the
Palestinians were a “peace-loving people who want to achieve their legitimate
rights and establish an independent state with east Jerusalem as its
He also blamed Israel for the current impasse in the peace
The PA leadership, meanwhile, reaffirmed its refusal to resume
any form of negotiations with Israel – direct or indirect – without a “clear
political reference” for the peace process on the basis of the 1967
The PA also requested an urgent meeting of the Quartet members
to discuss the future of the Middle East peace process in the wake of the US
declaration that it had failed to persuade Israel to extend a moratorium on
The call came following a meeting of the PLO
Executive Committee on the eve of a visit to Ramallah by US special envoy George
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official and adviser to Abbas,
told reporters that the Palestinian leadership “calls for a wide international
move to salvage the peace process.” He said the Palestinians wanted the Quartet
members – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – to lay foundations that would
ensure the relaunch of the peace process.
Abed Rabbo said the
Palestinians were also looking forward to coordination between Arab countries
and the rest of the world “to put the peace process on the right track” and
remove the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
He added that the PA was seeking
“serious guarantees for any peace process, first and foremost a cessation of all
settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and setting a clear
political reference that would include ending occupation of the territories that
were occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem.”
He urged the rest of
the world to follow in the footsteps of Brazil and Argentina and recognize a
Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.
The Palestinians were also
demanding the presence of a third party on the borders of a Palestinian state,
and a solution to all core issues, including the issue of the refugees on the
basis of UN resolutions, he said.
Abed Rabbo said the Israeli government
would be held fully responsible for any threats to stability in the region
because of its refusal to comply with calls to halt settlement
“Israel’s priority is to continue building and expanding
settlements,” he charged. “Israel wants to continue occupation, and this is the
basis of its political program.”