Abbas at Arab League 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an Israeli interviewer on
Sunday that he had passed on four messages to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
that he was willing to accept a “silent freeze” on building in the settlements
to continue negotiations with Israel.
Abbas told Channel 1’s Oded Granot
that there was a worldwide consensus regarding the construction freeze, and
reiterated that he would not resume peace talks until Israel renewed its
Palestinians demand Israel present map of its borders
Right blasts Netanyahu for offer to extend freeze
“When Obama became president, he was the one who
declared that the ‘settlement construction must be stopped.’ The United States
says it, Europe says it, the whole world is saying it – why should I not say
it?” Abbas told Granot that “when we went to Annapolis, everyone who was present
– more than 50 states – said that settlement building must be stopped. At the
same time, President [George W.] Bush said, ‘We shall carry out this mission and
We shall create a freeze committee to supervise the
construction freeze in settlements.’ We relied on Bush’s statement and went
ahead with negotiations.”
The PA president said that Netanyahu had
explained to him that he could not comply with demands to extend the
“Netanyahu told me, ‘I cannot under any circumstance, because I
fear for my government.’ Government is not more precious than
Government is not more precious that the future of both peoples,”
Asked about Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s claim that
the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state would prompt future national
claims by Arab Israelis, Abbas asserted, “These claims are groundless. We
recognized the State of Israel in 1993, we negotiated, the PLO came here and we
signed dozens of agreements. We recognize that the Palestinian state should be
established on the 1967 borders.
If we reach this, there is something
else of importance – ending the conflict.
“We are ready to do this,” he
continued. “We are ready to put an end to the historic demands. But when
Lieberman comes up with such demands – he is not interested in peace.”
government official confirmed Sunday night that the issue of a non-publicized
freeze had been discussed a number of times, but that it was
“What is a silent freeze?” the official asked. “How do the
Palestinians explain they are going back to the talks? They will have to say
there is no building, so as a result there will be no ‘silent freeze.’”
Likewise, he said, it would be impossible to keep a freeze “silent” when people
living in the settlements asked for permits to build and then got turned
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea,
Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he thought Abbas’s words were a “demonstration
“After you clear all the propaganda and all the distortions,
the only relevant truth is that Israel came to the negotiating table with clean
hands and without preconditions, and Mr.
Abbas refused to
This is the only thing that matters. So the fact that he says
that Israel does not want peace is a blatant demonstration of chutzpa,” said
He called on Netanyahu not to allow a silent freeze, and to
authorize new construction in Judea and Samaria.
The last list of public
tenders published by the Housing and Construction Ministry did not include any
projects in West Bank settlements.
It did include 238 new homes in Jewish
neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
International condemnation of those east
Jerusalem homes, said Dayan, is “the direct result of the fact that there are no
[tenders for] construction in Judea and Samaria. It moved the front lines to
Jerusalem and makes the world concentrate on tenders there.”