Abbas warns of Israeli ‘provocations'

J'lem hopes PA isn’t looking for excuses to scuttle the peace process.

May 20, 2010 02:19
2 minute read.
George Mitchell and Mahmoud Abbas

George Mitchell and Mahmoud Abbas 311. (photo credit: Madji Mohammed/AP)

US envoy George Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning, after having met a day earlier with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas told Mitchell Israeli “provocations” were threatening to foil the nascent negotiations.

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Abbas hosted the American envoy in Ramallah and while welcoming the start of the US-sponsored “proximity talks,” delivered a number of letters containing Palestinian complaints about Israel’s actions on the ground, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

Erekat said that the letters detailed Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians, including the recent killings of a teenager in the West Bank and an elderly man in the Gaza Strip.

He said the letters also detailed arrests of Palestinians by the IDF and “provocative” statements made by Israeli government officials.

“We hope that the Americans will obligate the Israelis to stop the provocations, which include invasions, arrests, settlement construction and the creation of new facts on the ground,” Erekat said after the meeting.

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One senior Israeli official, when asked about the letters, said Jerusalem hoped the Palestinians were not looking for an excuse to scuttle the talks. “We want this process to succeed,” he said.

Erekat also said the Palestinians were keen on ensuring the success of the talks, and that they were focusing on final-status issues such as borders and refugees.

“We’re not asking Mitchell about his talks with the Israelis, because these are proximity talks,” he said. “We are negotiating with the Americans according to an agreed agenda.”

Erekat also expressed hope that the parties would “exploit every moment” during the four-month proximity talks to reach agreement on the future borders of the Palestinian state.

Israeli officials have said repeatedly that final-status issues such as borders and refugees would have to be negotiated between the sides.

“The more difficult issues cannot have a resolution without direct negotiations,” one diplomatic official stressed. “If they want to have a peace agreement, they are going to have to negotiate directly with us.”

Abbas reportedly discussed with Mitchell the possibility of NATO troops being stationed in a future Palestinian state, something that has been raised in the past by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Netanyahu’s position, however, is that in the foreseeable future Israel would have to have a presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state, to ensure that weapons do not pour into it, as they have into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and to Hizbullah in Lebanon from Syria.

Mitchell met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday afternoon, soon after arriving.

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