Ramallah-The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, called during a press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo, for an international peace conference and the formation of an international mechanism to end the Israeli occupation according to a specific timetable.
Abbas has warned that Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories will change the conflict from a political conflict to a religious one, stressing that the current Israeli government has been thwarting international efforts to bring an end to the situation.
“We support the French initiative, the group of international sponsors, which could include the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Arab countries and other leading countries such as Japan,” President Abbas added.
Abbas’s conference in Tokyo coincided with Netanyahu’s accusations in Jerusalem. Israel blames incitement by Palestinian leaders and media as a main cause of the violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Abbas of fomenting terrorism, in part with false allegations that Israel intends to change the status quo at the contested Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In a striking rejection of relentless international efforts to broker new talks, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Monday that the Palestinians will “never” return to direct negotiations with Israel.
Peace talks collapsed in April 2014 and the situation has deteriorated since then, with the prospects of fresh dialogue appearing more distant than ever. However, Malki said that one-on-one talks with Israel were out of the question.
“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiation,” Malki told a press conference.
Malki stressed that a multilateral framework to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is needed and he praised an initiative discussed late last month by France to revive plans for an international conference to end the conflict.
Moreover, he warned that without international involvement, a vacuum will be left that may end up being filled by the ISIS terrorist group.
“If ISIS takes advantage of lack of any brokers… then of course, they might come and try to fill it,” he said. “This is very dangerous,” he added.
“If the Americans are giving up and the Europeans don’t have the courage to do anything and Arabs are really worried about their own problems, what do you expect? Extremists around might take over.”
Malki said the new surge in violence has its roots in the Palestinians’ humiliation and desperation after decades of occupation.
“They are born without any hope for the future… that’s why sometimes they (teenagers) decide to sacrifice their lives even at the age of 15… for the better lives of the rest of the Palestinians,” Malki said in a press conference.