Fatah backs refusal on direct talks

Council supports Abbas's refusal to enter unconditional peace talks.

Mahmoud Abbas what 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mahmoud Abbas what 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Fatah Revolutionary Council over the weekend expressed support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to open direct talks with Israel unconditionally.
Following a stormy meeting in Ramallah, the 122 members of the council also voiced support for Abbas’s efforts to reconcile with Hamas.
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Abbas told Fatah members that the US administration was exerting heavy pressure on him to agree to direct talks with Israel without conditions.
Abbas reiterated his opposition to the demand, insisting that Israel first accept the pre- 1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state, freeze all settlement construction and reach agreement with the Palestinians on security issues.
Abbas also criticized US President Barack Obama for being “unclear and vague” with the Palestinians. Abbas said that Obama sent him an oral message that did not include clear answers to questions he had presented to the Americans regarding the proposed negotiations with Israel.
The support of the Revolutionary Council is seen as a moral victory for Abbas. Last week he also won the backing of the PLO Executive Committee on this issue.
“The Revolutionary Council and Fatah stand firmly with the president regarding the direct negotiations,” said a statement issued by the council members. “The council also stresses the need to demand that the US administration clarify its position regarding the 1967 borders.”
The statement said that direct negotiations with Israel were contingent on recognition of pre-1967 lines as the official borders of a Palestinian state. It noted that these lines include also east Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley on the Palestinian side of the line.
The council urged Abbas to reshuffle the cabinet of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad so that it would include more Fatah ministers.
The council also strongly condemned Hamas for its continued crackdown on Fatah members in the Gaza Strip and called for the release of all those detained in Hamas prisons.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Saturday that direct negotiations must be preceded by Israeli acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.
He did not rule out a land swap.
Erekat said that a cessation of all settlement activities was also a condition for moving to direct talks.