PA President Mahmoud Abbas held Israel responsible for the impasse in the Middle East peace process Tuesday, because of its refusal to freeze construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem and recognize the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
Abbas told Western diplomats who met with him in Ramallah that the Palestinians would be ready to return to the negotiating table if Israel accepted the two conditions.
The meeting came ahead of a donor conference in Brussels later this week, where participants are expected to discuss financial aid to the PA.
Abbas was also quoted as saying that “Israeli intransigence and refusal to accept the principle of a two-state solution and freeze settlement activities have foiled international efforts to salvage the peace process.”
The PA president’s comments follow a conversation between US President Barack Obama and Abbas on Monday about the prospects of resuming the peace process. Obama “reaffirmed America’s commitment to Middle East peace” during the talk between the two leaders, according to a statement put out by the White House.
Obama also “noted the need for all parties to reinforce the efforts that have brought an end to the recent fighting and thanked Abbas for his contributions in that regard.” In addition, they addressed the need to “build trust between the parties” and for all sides to “refrain from provocative actions” that could harm such trust.
Obama spoke positively about the efforts of the Quartet and Jordan to bring the two sides together and foster direct talks. The two leaders agreed to remain in close touch, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat denied Tuesday that Abbas was facing US pressure to resume peace talks with Israel.
Erekat said that Obama did not ask the PA president to refrain from sending a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu concerning the peace process.
Some reports had suggested that Abbas’s long-awaited letter would blame Israel for the crisis in the peace talks and threaten to dissolve the PA.
A top aide to Abbas said that the PA president told Obama that he was prepared to resume the peace talks if Israel met the Palestinians’ demands.
PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said that Abbas’s letter to Netanyahu, which will be delivered sometime in the near future, would hold Israel fully responsible for the collapse of the peace process.
Abu Yusef said that there was a consensus among the Palestinian leadership that there is no point in resuming the peace process unless Israel recognized the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a twostate solution and halted construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem.
Abbas is also planning to send copies of the letter to several world leaders, he added. The PLO official denied that the letter would include a threat to dismantle the PA.