Abbas reiterates refusal to resume talks without freeze

PA president to consult with Arab powers over US peace role after Washington abandons talks with Israel on settlement construction.

December 9, 2010 13:24
2 minute read.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas in Greece 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday reiterated his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless it freezes all West Bank settlement construction.

Abbas stated his position during a visit to Cairo Thursday, days after US officials said they had dropped efforts to persuade Israel to temporarily renew curbs on settlement.

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Later Thursday, Abbas is expected to hold “urgent” consultations in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in wake of Washington’s decision to abandon efforts to persuade Israel to extend a moratorium on settlement construction, a PA official said on Wednesday.

Abbas has also requested an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital next week to discuss the repercussions of the US decision.

The PA official said the Palestinians expected the Arab ministers to convene in Cairo as early as next week.

The Egyptian president will ask Abbas to delay his decision to seek international UN recognition of a Palestinian state so as to give the US administration another chance to persuade Israel to halt settlement construction, the official said.

PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said that in light of the American announcement the PA leadership would discuss the possibility of asking the UN Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders.

He said that the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee would convene in Ramallah to discuss the PA response to the US announcement as soon as Abbas returns from his current tour abroad.

Sha’ath added that the Palestinians hold Israel fully responsible for the current deadlock in the peace talks He said that Israel’s refusal to cease settlement construction would be added to US President Barack Obama’s “record of failure” in making the peace process succeed.

Abbas, who learned about the US position during a visit to Greece, said that the peace process was facing a “difficult crisis.”

He told reporters in Athens that the EU could now play a larger role, together with the US, to achieve peace in the Middle East.

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