After US, Abbas signals retreat from Israel settlement freeze demand

Abbas signalled a retreat from his demands to start peace talks with Israel after US failed to end Jewish settlements on the occupied lands.

After US, Abbas signals retreat from Israel settlement freeze demand

Palestinian President signalled a retreat from his demands to start peace talks with Israel after US failed to end Jewish settlements on the occupied lands that world court ruled illgal under international law.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday peace talks with Israel could be restarted if the Israeli government was prepared to put a stop to settlement building for "a certain period."

Earlier, Abbas has demanded that Israel end the all ongoing settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank if negotiations can resume.

He in the past said, a limited, 10-month construction freeze by Israel in November was insufficient.

"If Israel is prepared to stop settlement building for a certain period...talks could be restarted," Abbas said, speaking through an interpreter at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

He did not expand on how long the period would be, though in an interview with Monday's edition of British newspaper The Guardian, Abbas said he would begin direct talks with Israel in exchange for a complete three-month settlement freeze.

Abbas said Israel would need to accept its June 1967 borders as the basis for any land swaps. Abbas demands that the construction must end in East Jerusalem.

"These are not preconditions, they are requirements in the road map. If they are not prepared to do that, it means they don't want a political solution," he told the newspaper.

"Proximity talks"

Abbas said that "proximity talks" outlined by U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell could provide a way into starting a new peace round. This would allow discussions between the "two sides" to be pursued via mediators.

Reportedly, Abbas also said that US President Barack Obama proposed a freeze to settlement construction, yet failed to convince Israel to halt settlement activity completely. Obama's suggestion, he said, was a moratorium which is unacceptable, being only a partial standstill for 10 months, excluding Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.

He added that he would consult with Arab allies before responding on Thursday to the Mitchell's call for proximity talks, according to the Guardian, which said Abbas indicated that he may be prepared to accept.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited Merkel in Berlin last month, has said he was ready to resume peace talks "unconditionally."

He has refused to end settlement buildings in occupied East Jerusalem, in a move condemned internationally.

Obama administration first demanded "total freeze" in the settlements on occupied lands, then failed to get Israel end the building constructions and what's more, Israel ordered new ones. In the end, US government stepped back to its demand from Israelis, calling only for "restraint" in all the settlements that the World Court has ruled illegal under international law.

Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier.

Agencies

Last Mod: 01 Şubat 2010, 17:22
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