Abbas: Peace in 2008 or never

PA president says Bush must "play an active role, not just as a supervisor;" slams Israel on Gaza.

abbas sieg heil 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas sieg heil 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged the US on Monday to make good on its promise to work for a Middle East peace settlement by the end of the year, warning that there would not be any future chances. Abbas spoke following a closed door meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in the Jordanian capital of Amman and warned that if the Bush administration didn't make good on its pledge to "make 2008 the year to broker peace, then there will never be any future chances to achieve this goal." The Palestinians and Israelis are negotiating a final peace settlement, which the Bush administration hopes would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state later this year. The US "must understand it is to play an active role, not just as a supervisor, by intervening directly to help make peace," Abbas told reporters. He also urged Israel "to stop escalating the situation in the Palestinian territories and stop all attacks in the Gaza Strip, including firing missiles there." For his part, Abdullah expressed dismay over the rapidly deteriorating living conditions in Gaza and called for end to the economic blockade imposed there, according to a royal palace statement. The king emphasized that Jordan refused any partial solution or unilateral actions on the Palestinian issue which would create "real obstacles to achieving tangible progress in the peace process," the statement said. Gaza's battered economy has nearly collapsed under the weight of the closure and basic services to 1.4 million Palestinians - such as water, sewerage, medical care and education - have been crippled. "Gaza is on the edge of an explosion," Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, warned Monday. A separate palace statement announced that Abdullah and his Palestinian-born wife Queen Rania will visit the United States later this month for meetings with President George W. Bush and other administration officials on Mideast peacemaking. The statement did not give a specific date for the meeting with Bush, but said the visit would start Feb. 28.