Hamas urges Abbas to declare failure

PA president under pressure to declare failure of peace talks, return to negotiations with Hamas.

abbas bush 298.88 (photo credit: )
abbas bush 298.88
(photo credit: )
Hamas has urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to officially declare the failure of peace talks with Israel and to resume national unity negotiations with the movement and other Palestinian factions. The appeal came in response to Abbas's announcement that he failed to make progress in his talks with US President George W. Bush last week. Abbas is scheduled to brief Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his visit to Washington during a meeting between the two in Sharm e-Sheikh on Sunday. The two will also discuss Egypt's efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas. PA officials in Ramallah warned that the failure of the peace talks with Israel would "strengthen" Hamas and other extremist groups in the Middle East. The officials told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas was "very disappointed" with the results of his talks in Washington. "The Americans don't want to make a commitment about the borders of the Palestinian state," said one official. "Nor do they want to put pressure on Israel to stop settlement expansion and remove [West Bank] checkpoints." Another official told the Post that in light of the US position, "It's ridiculous to talk about an agreement between the Palestinians and Israel before the end of Bush's term in office." Bush's failure to pressure Israel was likely to undermine the PA, the official added. "The entire region could be headed toward a political catastrophe because of the collapse of the peace talks," the official cautioned. "Hamas and the extremists are already laughing at us because we put our faith in this US administration." "Frankly, so far nothing has been achieved," Abbas said in an interview on Friday with The Associated Press. "But we are still conducting direct work to have a solution." The "biggest obstacle" was Israel's continued construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Abbas added. "We demanded the Americans implement the first phase of the road map that talks about the cessation of settlement expansion," he said. "This is the biggest blight that stands as a big rock in the path of negotiations." Abbas expressed disappointment over the failure of the US administration to press Israel to implement the road map peace plan. He also expressed disappointment because neither Bush nor US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with whom Abbas met separately, would talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders. "We demanded that they talk about the 1967 borders," he said. "None of them talks about the 1967 borders." Abbas said he was looking for a full Middle East peace framework agreement that would be detailed and included timetables, while the Israelis have signaled that a "declaration of principles" would be enough of an achievement before Bush leaves office in January. "We don't want a declaration of principle because we had one," Abbas said, referring to the 1993 Oslo Accords. "Now we want a normal agreement. And then we can go for the details." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this proved that "all the talk by Bush about the establishment of a Palestinian state before he leaves office is lies and illusions." "It's time for Abbas to officially declare the failure of the talks and to resume negotiations with all the Palestinian factions about achieving national unity. The Americans don't want a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital," Abu Zuhri said. Despite his disappointment, Abbas said he would still meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regularly in hopes of achieving a deal. But there are no three-way talks scheduled anytime soon with Bush, Abbas and Olmert. Bush is scheduled to visit Israel in May to help celebrate the state's 60th anniversary, and then the US president will travel to the Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh to see Abbas separately. "It will be a bilateral meeting between me and Bush. That is the meeting I was invited for," Abbas said. AP contributed to this report