Abbas: Israel seeking to ‘close door to right of return'

PA president also reiterates refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, says Israel’s goal behind demand is to “expel about 1.5 million Israeli Arabs.”

Mahmoud Abbas what 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mahmoud Abbas what 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Monday as saying that if Israel wants the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table it must cease all construction in the settlements.
Meanwhile, top PLO official Yasser Abed Rabo said it was “impossible” for the Palestinians to return to the peace talks as long as the present government is in power in Israel.
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Israel wants negotiations “so that it could practice its occupation policies and thwart any political settlement” that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, Abed Rabo said.
“We want a complete cessation of settlement construction,” Abbas was quoted as saying during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. “We don’t want to be deceived with another moratorium or a half moratorium or a quarter moratorium. If they want us to return to the direct talks, the settlements must stop completely. Only then we will go back to the talks to discuss the issues of refugees and borders.”
If Israel failed to comply, the Palestinians would ask the US to present its own plan for a settlement of the conflict, Abbas said.
“If we fail in this, we want to go to the United Nations Security Council to ask the world to recognize the Palestinian state,” he added. “President Barack Obama has said that a Palestinians state would be established within a year and would be a member of the UN.”
Abbas said that altogether the Palestinians had seven options should the peace process fail.
He also reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Israel’s goal behind this demand was to “expel about 1.5 million Israeli Arabs,” Abbas said. By raising such a demand, Israel was seeking to “close the door to the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
Abbas said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had rejected the idea of deploying foreign troops along the border between Israel and Jordan or in any area in the West Bank.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday that halting settlement construction, including in east Jerusalem, was the key to resuming peace talks.
He said that the Israeli government was solely responsible for the stalemate in the peace process.
Erekat spoke during separate meetings in his office in Jericho with US Consul-General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein and French Consul-General in Jerusalem Frederic Desagneaux.
“There are no compromises over settlement construction,” Erekat told the visiting diplomats. “The Israeli government must choose between peace and settlements, because it can’t combine the two together.”
As far as the Palestinians were concerned, “Israel’s intentions have become clear and defined,” he said.

Israel, he claimed, had chosen settlements instead of peace and was creating facts on the ground by confiscating land, demolishing houses, building the West Bank security barrier and maintaining the closure on the Gaza Strip.
Erekat reiterated the Palestinians’ rejection of any solution that does not lead to a full withdrawal from all the Palestinian territories captured by Israel in 1967 and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
He also called for resolving the issue of the refugees on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
Erekat dismissed talk about temporary solutions or the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders.