Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Sunday that the Palestinians were going to the direct talks with Israel on the basis of the Quartet’s declaration in Moscow from March, which calls for the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state and a halt to settlement construction.
Abbas warned that the Israeli government alone would be held responsible for the failure of the talks if it continued to build in the settlements.RELATED:Netanyahu: We can reach a stable peaceOpinion: Where the negotiations could be useful
“Our position toward settlements and their illegal status hasn’t changed,” he said.
Abbas’s speech came as the PA prepared to open a US-funded campaign to persuade the Palestinians and Israelis to support the peace talks . Advertisements with this message will be broadcast both in Israeli and PA controlled media. Posters with the same message will appear on large billboards.
In addition to Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, several Palestinian officials have been recruited to the new campaign. Among them are Saeb Erekat, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Jibril Rajoub.
Abbas, in a televised speech on Sunday night, expressed hope that the Palestinians would find a partner in Israel “that would be capable of making major and responsible decisions to end the occupation and ensure real security for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
The negotiations would cover final-status issues such as Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements, water, prisoners and security, he said.
“In a few days we will be heading to Washington to launch direct talks with Israel and its leaders under the sponsorship of the US, President Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah and the Quartet, which supported the launching of these talks and set the basis for them,” Abbas said. “Our agreement to attend the direct talks was based on the Quartet declaration.”
Abbas noted that the Quartet statement had “stressed the need to end the occupation that began in 1967, including that of east Jerusalem.”
He also pointed out that the statement talked about the establishment of
a viable and independent Palestinian state and rejected all settlement
activities, including natural growth in these communities.
“We are going to the talks armed with these positions and commitments,”
Abbas said in his speech. “We will demand that all parties abide by them
and implement them if they truly are seeking real and lasting peace.”
Abbas emphasized both Israel’s and the Palestinians’ need for security.
However, that security “should not be used as an excuse to justify
expansion, settlement and the confiscation of lands and rights of others
by force,” he said.