Abbas rejects provisional borders

Fears temporary borders will become permanent; Ban Ki-moon: Har Homa housing units not helpful.

December 7, 2007 02:59
2 minute read.
Abbas rejects provisional borders

Abbas 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the possibility of creating a provisional state, raised at last week's Mideast summit, because of fears that its temporary borders would become permanent. Abbas told Palestinian lawmakers on Thursday that during the summit in Annapolis, Maryland, the idea of a provisional state was brought up, but he turned it down - though it is a key part of the internationally backed "road map" formula for creating a Palestinian state. In the meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas also rejected talks with Hamas unless it relinquishes control of Gaza first. Hamas overran Gaza in June, expelling forces loyal to Abbas. Abbas said that at the Annapolis summit presided over by US President George W. Bush, "There was talk about a state with provisional borders. We reject provisional borders, because these (borders) will be final." In their joint declaration, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas agreed that the 2003 "road map" plan would be a basis for resuming peace negotiations. The first talks under the new framework are set for next Wednesday. Israeli officials had no comment on Abbas's remarks. Abbas told the lawmakers the Palestinians would not agree to a new demand that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Olmert made that demand shortly before the Annapolis summit. Abbas said recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would "negate the rights of 1.5 million Palestinians who live there," referring to Israel's Arab minority, which makes up 20 percent of its population. With negotiations set to begin after a seven-year freeze, Abbas would be unlikely to offer concessions on the key issues at this point. Abbas repeated his view of reconciliation with Hamas, ruling out talks with the Islamic militants unless they give up control of Gaza. "There will be no dialogue until the movement backs down from its coup," he said. Because of the Hamas takeover, Abbas is in control of only the West Bank, though he insists he represents Gaza as well. Meanwhile, Israel on Tuesday announced plans to build more than 300 new homes in a disputed east Jerusalem neighborhood. The new housing would expand Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood of about 4,000 residents in an area Palestinians claim as capital of a future state. Palestinian officials appealed to the US to block the project. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was asked at a news conference Thursday whether he considered Israel's decision a violation of the roadmap and the commitments of Annapolis. "The United Nations' position on the illegality of settlements is well known," Ban said. "These new tenders for 300 new homes in east Jerusalem so soon after this Annapolis Middle East peace conference, I think, is not helpful. I will be discussing this matter with my Quartet partners."

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