Abbas to Hollande: Palestinian refugee problem must be solved to end conflict with Israel

Hollande calls for stop in W. Bank settlement construction to salvage the two-state solution.

Hollande and Abbas 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Alain Jocard/Pool)
Hollande and Abbas 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Alain Jocard/Pool)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that there is a need for a solution to the problem of five million Palestinian refugees in order to end the conflict with Israel.
Abbas pointed out that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative mentions a “just and agreedupon” solution to the refugee issue.
Abbas was speaking to reporters in Ramallah after meeting with visiting French President François Hollande.
Abbas’s comments came in response to Hollande’s appeal to the Palestinians to show flexibility on the issue of the refugees.
“A just peace, ending the occupation which began in 1967 and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital is the guarantee for stability in the region,” Abbas said.
He said that he discussed with Hollande the latest developments surrounding the peace talks with Israel.
Abbas warned that continued settlement construction would undermine and foil the peace process. He also condemned settler assaults on Palestinians and the continued incarceration of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Abbas reaffirmed the PA’s commitment to pursue the peace talks with Israel until the end of the nine-month period, in accordance with understandings reached with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Abbas praised the European position on settlements, which, he added, would prompt the Israeli government to reconsider its policy in this regard.
“We are calling for a boycott of settlement products,” Abbas said. “We are not calling for a boycott of Israel.”
Abbas thanked France for its continued financial support for the Palestinians, saying he was happy to see six French ministers accompany Hollande on his visit to Ramallah.
Hollande, who earlier laid a wreath on Yasser Arafat’s grave in the Mukata presidential compound, said after the meeting that to salvage the two-state solution, Israel should stop building in the settlements.“For the sake of peace, France calls for the total and definitive end to settlement construction, because it will make it more difficult to reach a two-state solution,” Hollande said.
He also reiterated his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed-upon land swaps and Jerusalem as the joint capital of two states. He also reaffirmed Israel’s right to security.
During Hollande’s visit, the two sides signed five agreements stipulating that France would support the Palestinians in various fields, including energy-related projects, transportation and the establishment of a French school in Ramallah.
The two sides also signed an agreement according to which France would transfer another 10 million euros to support the PA budget.
France had agreed to provide the PA with 19m. euros this year.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not relate to Hollande’s remarks in Ramallah when he greeted him with a warm speech in the Knesset just a few hours after Hollande met Abbas.
One government official said Hollande’s remarks were expected and reflected wellknown European and French attitudes toward the settlements.