Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a news conference in Egypt.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there was no alternative to the Egyptian initiative for a long-term truce, during a meeting with Palestinian leaders on Saturday evening.
"We adhere to the Egyptian plan," the PA chief said in his opening remarks at the Ramallah meeting. "We will not accept any other party to take Egypt's place" as the mediator of indirect talks to cement a truce between Israel and Hamas. Azzam Al-Ahmed, the chief Palestinian negotiator in Cairo also attended the meeting and briefed the leaders on the progress of negotiations.
The Palestinians delegation is slated to return to Cairo this evening to renew talks on Sunday, though members of the negotiating team have expressed pessimism that any progress could be made as things currently stood. Senior figures in Hamas and Islamic Jihad reiterated that the document presented to both sides in Cairo was unacceptable and did not meet their demands.
Abbas said that the PA leadership's goal was to halt the fighting between Israel and Hamas which has embroiled the Gaza Strip for the past five weeks.
Abbas addressed the international conference slated for next month in Egypt which will see donor countries discuss providing financial aid for rebuilding the Gaza Strip and express hope that Arab countries would make progress.
The president talked about the importance of going forward with the diplomatic route, including plans to join the International Criminal Court
in order to file war crimes charges against Israel.
According to the draft cease-fire terms – Israel will stop its offensive against Gaza from the air, sea, and land and in turn, the Palestinian factions will stop their attacks on Israel and will stop digging tunnels outside Gaza's territory in Israel. In addition, border crossings between Israel and the Strip would reopen.
Under the proposal, once a cease-fire holds, the parties will return to Cairo for more extensive negotiations, including over prisoner swaps and the hot-button issue of establishing an airport and a seaport in the coastal enclave.