Abbas: Israel puts settlements above peace

PA requests an urgent meeting of the Quartet members to discuss the future of the Middle East peace process.

December 14, 2010 03:20
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat

311_ Abed Rabbo, Abbas and Erekat. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Israel prefers settlements to peace because of its refusal to halt settlement construction and return to the peace talks with the Palestinians, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

Abbas, who was speaking during a meeting in his office with a South African delegation, said that the Palestinians were a “peace-loving people who want to achieve their legitimate rights and establish an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

He also blamed Israel for the current impasse in the peace process.

The PA leadership, meanwhile, reaffirmed its refusal to resume any form of negotiations with Israel – direct or indirect – without a “clear political reference” for the peace process on the basis of the 1967 borders.

The PA also requested an urgent meeting of the Quartet members to discuss the future of the Middle East peace process in the wake of the US declaration that it had failed to persuade Israel to extend a moratorium on settlement construction.

The call came following a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee on the eve of a visit to Ramallah by US special envoy George Mitchell.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official and adviser to Abbas, told reporters that the Palestinian leadership “calls for a wide international move to salvage the peace process.” He said the Palestinians wanted the Quartet members – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – to lay foundations that would ensure the relaunch of the peace process.

Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians were also looking forward to coordination between Arab countries and the rest of the world “to put the peace process on the right track” and remove the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

He added that the PA was seeking “serious guarantees for any peace process, first and foremost a cessation of all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and setting a clear political reference that would include ending occupation of the territories that were occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem.”

He urged the rest of the world to follow in the footsteps of Brazil and Argentina and recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

The Palestinians were also demanding the presence of a third party on the borders of a Palestinian state, and a solution to all core issues, including the issue of the refugees on the basis of UN resolutions, he said.

Abed Rabbo said the Israeli government would be held fully responsible for any threats to stability in the region because of its refusal to comply with calls to halt settlement construction.

“Israel’s priority is to continue building and expanding settlements,” he charged. “Israel wants to continue occupation, and this is the basis of its political program.”

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