Abbas urges US to pressure Israel over settlements

PA president meets with US deputy secretary of state, reiterates refusal to resume talks unless Israel meets 3 conditions.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R) (photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R)
(photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his refusal on Wednesday to resume peace talks unless Israel halts construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, releases Palestinian prisoners and accepts the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.
Abbas, who met in Ramallah with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss ways of reviving the peace process, said he would be prepared to return to the negotiations if Israel met those three conditions.
Abbas told the US emissary that he was not setting preconditions for resuming the peace talks, but was only demanding that Israel fulfill its obligations under the terms of the 2003 road map peace plan.
During the meeting, Abbas complained that Israeli “intransigence” was responsible for the continued stalemate in the peace process. He urged the US administration to exert pressure on Israel to halt construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem as a first step toward reviving the peace negotiations.
A PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post following the meeting that Burns did not carry any new ideas that could pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.
The official expressed doubt that the Obama administration would be able to put pressure on Israel in light of the upcoming presidential elections in the US.
“We don’t expect a breakthrough before the US elections,” the PA official said. “[US] President Barack Obama is not in a position to exert any kind of pressure on Israel because he’s afraid of losing the votes of American Jews.”
An Israeli official urged Abbas not to place a stumbling block in front of the negotiations by insisting on preconditions.
“He can call them what he wants,” the official said, “they are preconditions. He should take them off the table.” He noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was willing to meet with Abbas at any time in any place without preconditions.
“If he wants to play the obligation game, then the Palestinians have their own obligations,” the official said. “The Palestinians can be questioned very seriously about the implementation of their obligations concerning disarming terrorists, fighting incitement, unilaterally changing the status of the land and resolving issues through negotiations.”
Burns is in Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of a high-level security delegation that will hold a meeting with Israeli officials in the Foreign Ministry on Thursday. Among them are experts on Iran and Syria.
He will also hold a joint press conference with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Thursday morning. His trip comes in advance of a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next Monday.