Fatah rebuffs Mitchell

Palestinian party rejects offer for US-brokered direct talks.

July 17, 2010 17:03
2 minute read.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas during a previous meeti

abbas mitchell 311. (photo credit: AP)


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Fatah spokesperson Muhammad Dahlan announced that Fatah had rejected the US's offer Saturday to broker direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The offer was advanced by US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell in a meeting earlier Saturday with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Fatah urges Abbas to avoid direct talks
Obama to PA: Start direct talks

Mitchell had said earlier that he was "heartened" by the talks he held with Abbas Saturday.

The position of Fatah is not necessarily the official position of the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said earlier that he will resume direct peace talks if Israel accepts its 1967 frontier as a baseline for the borders of a Palestinian state and agrees to the deployment of an international force there.

Abbas is under growing pressure from the United States to resume negotiations, and met in Ramallah with President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.

Abbas' latest comments, published Saturday in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad, hinted at some flexibility.

The Palestinian leader did not mention a comprehensive Israeli settlement freeze as a condition for negotiations — something he has underlined as crucial in the past.

However, it seemed unlikely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet Abbas' demands.

Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations, insisting on talks without conditions.

Negotiations between Abbas and Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, broke off in December 2008, on the eve of Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

"We have put forward to the Israelis our position on different final status issues, and especially on borders and security," Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper. "We have said that the borders need to be on a 1967 basis, with agreement on land swaps equal in value and size, and we gave our vision regarding security, which was agreed on previously, in Olmert's days."

He said that Israel needs to recognize these propositions as acceptable, in principle.

"If they agree, we will consider that progress ... and this would prompt us to go to direct negotiations," he said.

It was not clear whether Mitchell made any headway in his meeting with Abbas on Saturday.

Mitchell said he was "heartened" by the talks he has held in the region in recent days and that he would return soon. On Friday, he met with Netanyahu.

The US envoy has been shuttling between Abbas and Netanyahu in recent weeks to try to close some of the gaps between the sides.

Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said a decision on direct talks is not expected before early next month.

He said the Palestine Liberation Organization's top decision-making body and Arab foreign ministers would have to weigh in on the issue, and that Abbas is also waiting for clarifications from the US.

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