WASHINGTON – PA President Mahmoud Abbas condemned two recent Hamas attacks on
Israelis in a speech at the White House Wednesday night.
“We do not want,
at all, that any blood be shed, one drop of blood, on the part of the Israelis
or the Palestinians,” he said, addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who
was among the leaders to share the dais with him.
“We want them to live
as neighbors and partners forever.
Let us sign an agreement, a final
agreement, for peace and put an end to a very long period of struggle
Hamas shootings on Tuesday and Wednesday left four dead and two
wounded, actions which Abbas said are to be “condemned.”
spoke before Abbas in an East Room event preceding a dinner hosted by US
President Barack Obama, said the recent attacks wouldn’t stop Israel
engaging in the direct negotiations set to start Thursday.
“I will not
let the terrorists block our path to peace,” he said, though he added,
events underscore once again that peace must be anchored in
Netanyahu also directly addressed Abbas, turning to him from
the podium and saying, “President Abbas, you are my partner in peace.”
tried to assure a skeptical Palestinian public that he was sincere in
to forge an agreement.
“I came here today to find a historic compromise,”
he declared. “I didn’t come here to find excuses or to make them. I came
The two leaders shook hands and exchanged warm comments after
each other’s remarks, though the tone of the two addresses contrasted
Where Netanyahu spoke about the desire for peace in broad
strokes, while stressing Israel’s need for security, Abbas took a more
tone that dwelled more on past injustices and policy changes the
“We call on the Israelis to carry out their obligations, including
a freeze on settlements activities – which is not setting a precondition
call to implement an agreed obligation – and to end all the closure and
blockade, preventing freedom of movement, including the [Gaza] siege,”
“We want a peace that will correct the historical injustice caused
by the Nakba of 1948, and one that brings security to our people and the
people,” he continued, using the Arabic word for “catastrophe”
the founding of the State of Israel.
Israel considers the demand for a
settlement freeze a precondition and has long resisted it on those
Netanyahu, after months of pressure from the United States,
finally agreed to a temporary moratorium on building which is set to
the end of the month.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who along with
King Abdullah of Jordan also joined the East Room addresses and the
dinner, echoed Abbas’s words on settlements.
“Settlement activities in
the Palestinian territory are contrary to international law. They will
create rights for Israel, nor are they going to achieve peace or
Israel,” he said in Arabic. “It is, therefore, a priority to completely
all these activities until the entire negotiation process comes to a
Mubarak urged Israel to “seize the current opportunity” and “not
let it slip through your fingers.”
Abdullah, who spoke after Mubarak,
also stressed the possibilities and urgency of the current
“The direct negotiations that will start tomorrow must show
results – and sooner rather than later. Time is not on our side,” he
“There are those on both sides who want us to fail, who will do
everything in their power to disrupt our efforts,” he noted. “This is
must prevail. For our failure would be their success in sinking the
more instability and wars that will cause further suffering in our
Obama also urged the parties to recognize that there is a
“moment of opportunity that must be seized” in a separate statement he
earlier in the Rose Garden following “productive” individual meetings
day with each of the four leaders.
But he noted that others needed to
step up as well.
“A lot of times I hear from those who insist that this
is a top priority and yet do very little to actually support efforts
bring about a Palestinian state,” he said, in comments that seemed aimed
At the same time, he stressed that it was the parties
themselves that needed to reach an agreement.
“Ultimately the United
States cannot impose a solution, and we cannot want it more than the
themselves,” he said. “There are enormous risks involved here for all
parties concerned, but we cannot do it for them.”