Abbas to US officials: PA ready to resume negotiations

PA president tells US diplomats that "the Israeli government's refusal to stop settlement building was the reason behind stalled peace talks."

May 18, 2011 19:16
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh

Haniyeh and Abbas 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that he was prepared to resume negotiations with Israel immediately if it agrees to fulfill its obligations in line with international agreements and the road map.

Abbas’s statement came during a meeting in Ramallah with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Daniel Rubinstein, the US consul-general in Jerusalem, also attended the meeting.

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Abbas told the US officials that the government’s refusal to halt construction in the settlements and define clear terms of reference for the peace process was the reason for the stalled peace talks, a PA official said.

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Abbas also briefed the officials on the latest developments surrounding the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation accord between his Fatah faction and Hamas and efforts to establish a new government of independent technocrats, the PA official said.

Abbas, according to the official, reassured the US officials that the new PA government’s political platform would be that of the PLO, adding that the Palestinians remained committed to the peace process.

The meeting in Ramallah came amid reports that Hamas and Fatah negotiators were close to an agreement on the identities of the ministers who would serve in the new PA government.

The two parties have been holding intensive talks in Cairo since the beginning of the week to discuss ways of implementing the reconciliation pact.

However, the two sides have yet to agree on who would head the unity government.

Hamas officials were quoted in the past few days as voicing strong opposition to the reappointment of Salam Fayyad as prime minister.


It also remains unclear if Fatah supports Fayyad to be prime minister of the unity government.

Some Fatah representatives have hinted that Fayyad is Abbas’s preferred candidate for prime minister.

Others, however, have proposed businessman Mamoun Abu Shahla from the Gaza Strip as prime minister.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation to the talks with Hamas, said on Wednesday that the new government would be established within a month.

He said Fatah and Hamas have presented the names of 70 candidates to serve as ministers.

Ahmed was quoted by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency as saying that the new government would be completely independent.

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