|Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R).(Photo by: Jason Reed / Reuters)|
Unity gov't watered down response to PA letter
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON
Abbas says Israeli response unsatisfactory, threatens going to the United Nations again.
The letter that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent in response to PA
President Mahmoud Abbas last month regarding conditions for renewing the peace
talks was a milder version of the original response drawn up,The Jerusalem Post
In response to Abbas’s indictment of Israeli actions over
the last 20 years, Jerusalem drew up a response in kind which was not considered
“friendly.” But once the unity government with Kadima was established, the
decision was made not to get into polemics with the PA, but rather to water down
the response and essentially tell the Palestinians that now that there was a
broad government, there was a chance to start anew with negotiations, and that
this opportunity should not be missed.
The Israeli letter that was sent,
the Post has learned, was one-and-a-half pages long and short on
Abbas’s letter outlined his conditions for returning to the
negotiating table, demanding Israeli recognition of the pre- 1967 lines as the
basis for future peace talks, a full cessation of construction in the
settlements and east Jerusalem and the release of Palestinian
PA officials have expressed disappointment with Netanyahu’s
response, which the prime minister’s envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, delivered to Abbas
two weeks ago.
They called the response “vague” and said it did not
include “clear answers” to Abbas’s letter.
Abbas, meanwhile, met with US
Consul- General Daniel Rubinstein and discussed with him the latest developments
surrounding efforts to resume the stalled peace talks.
to one of his aides, told the US diplomat that he was disappointed with
The PA prime minister renewed his threat on Thursday
to unilaterally seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in response to
Israel’s refusal to accept his conditions for resuming talks.
was made during an interview published Thursday with the Lebanese daily
Abbas also told the paper that the exchange of letters between
him and Netanyahu has reached a “deadlock.”
Abbas said that he was
expecting the Americans to come forward with “new ideas” to revive the peace
He said that any idea should include a freeze of settlement
construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines “with some land swaps.”
Otherwise, Abbas cautioned, “we will go to the UN to extract a seat for
Palestine as a non-member state.”
Abbas also reiterated his refusal to
recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying the PLO, by signing the Oslo Accords,
had recognized Israel.
“We won’t agree to recognize something called the
Jewish state,” Abbas stressed. “Why wasn’t this issue raised when Israel
negotiated with Jordan and Egypt?” He added that the new coalition in Israel
made Netanyahu’s government one of the most powerful in the history of
“Because it’s a strong government, it should be able to solve the
problem with us,” Abbas said. “But the question is not whether it is capable of
doing so, but whether it has a desire,” the PA president pointed out.