Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reiterated his rejection of Israel's demand to recognize it as a Jewish state.
"From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else," Abbas told reporters before leaving for Saudi Arabia where he met Saudi King Abdullah for talks on the results of the Annapolis conference.
Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Qurei (Abu Ala) emphasized that that upcoming negotiations with Israel also apply to the Gaza Strip, even though it is under Hamas control.
After Abbas's meeting with the Saudi king, the PA President's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, condemned the "dangerous" escalation in Gaza, following IDF operations that killed six Palestinians in the Strip earlier Saturday.
Rudaineh called on the Israeli government to stop the Gaza raids. "The escalation causes the situation to deteriorate when serious efforts are being made to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," Rudaineh told reporters in Riyadh.
Earlier Saturday, Abbas said that there would be meetings in Moscow and Paris to follow up on the Annapolis peace conference.
Abbas made the remarks after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. He also said that a special negotiating team led by Qurei, would handle negotiations with Israelis, which are due to launch Dec. 12.
"There was this myth that there were talks or a deal," at the summit, Abbas said. "The purpose of the Annapolis meeting was to launch talks without going into details."
"There will be two stations after Annapolis: one in Paris and the second in Moscow where there will be another conference to review what the negotiations have achieved," he added, without elaborating.
Abbas did not say whether the Moscow meeting would focus on the Syrian-Israeli track as has been widely speculated.
In addition to the negotiating team, Abbas said that a "supreme committee of all Palestinian leadership" will be formed to follow-up negotiations; he didn't give further details on which factions will be represented in this committee.
Hamas and other groups have strongly opposed the resumption of peace talks with Israel, saying Abbas does not have political legitimacy to speak on behalf of all Palestinians, after the Islamic group seized control over Gaza Strip in June.
Abbas told reporters that he is open for talks with Hamas.
"We have had talks with Hamas for the past four or five years," he said. "We don't mind having talks because they are part of the Palestinian people and we will not give up this part of the people and we will not ignore them."
"We consider it an important movement," he said. "When it ends its coup, we will be ready to talk to it."
Before traveling to Saudi Arabia, Abbas traveled to Jordan, where he said that he "didn't receive any guarantees from the American administration regarding the upcoming negotiations with Israel."
"All I can say is that we felt seriousness from President (George W.) Bush and Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice and the whole American administration toward resolving the Palestinian problem," he said. "But we can't claim that we have any guarantees on the negotiations and their outcome."
"We're depending on the righteousness of our cause and on the international community, including the United States, which is sympathetic toward the Palestinian issue," added Abbas during a brief stopover at an Amman air base.
Qurei, speaking separately with reporters at the Amman air base, said the Palestinians were determined to "achieve statehood" by the end of next year.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin