DAMASCUS (AFP) – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday accused Israel of splitting the Palestinian territories into isolated cantons to prevent the creation of a state despite its pledge to peace efforts.
“Israel is continuing its aggression, its occupation, the construction of settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem,” Abbas told the opening session of an Arab summit in Damascus.
“The solution which Israel is designing consists of a group of cantons on a land separated by settlements, the separation wall and roadblocks,” he said.
“This type of solution only reinforces the occupation and colonisation and is aimed at preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” Abbas added.
He said the Israeli measures were continuing despite the relaunch of US-sponsored peace negotiations in Annapolis in November.
Abbas called for the international community to “lift (the peace process) out of the ruins created by Israeli policies so that we can reach our objective and have a peace deal before the end of the year”.
The international community “must assume its responsibility and save the peace process and realise that if Israel continues to undermine the negotiations, this will have catastrophic consequences …
“The next few months are going to be decisive. Reaching the end of the year without reaching a peace deal will trigger a new era of tensions in the region.”
Abbas called on Arab leaders to re-endorse a peace plan that they initially adopted in 2002 offering Israel normalisation with Arab states in return for its withdrawal from occupied lands.
“Re-endorsing the plan must accompany a move by the international community to force Israel to respond favourably to this initiative,” he said.
“The success of negotiations is dependent on Israel’s fulfilment of its obligations according to the roadmap (peace plan), particularly an end to settlement activity and military aggression against the Palestinian people and the lifting of the blockade and roadblocks,” Abbas said.
He also condemned the “barbaric Israeli attacks” which have killed dozens of people in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in retaliation for Palestinian rockets launched into southern Israel.
Abbas hailed a Yemeni initiative for a reconciliation between the Islamist Hamas and his Fatah party which was expelled from Gaza last June, insisting that Hamas must give up power in the strip before talks can take place.
The Yemeni initiative appears to have little chance of success due to the different interpretations of the agreement by the rival parties.