Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Abbas: No Point in Direct Talks with Israel Now - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page
Palestinian and Israeli Arab children gather inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site, in the Israeli annexed east Jerusalem during a ceremony marking International Children's day. (AFP)

Palestinian and Israeli Arab children gather inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, in the Israeli annexed east Jerusalem during a ceremony marking International Children’s day. (AFP)

RAMALLAH, West Bank, (AP) – The Palestinian president, who is under U.S. pressure to resume direct talks with Israel, said that doing so under current circumstances would be pointless.

The remarks by Mahmoud Abbas underline his determination not to return to the table unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commits to an internationally mandated settlement freeze and agrees to pick up talks where they left off under the Israeli leader’s predecessor in Dec. 2008.

Netanyahu hasn’t agreed to either demand, and has so far curbed but not frozen settlement activity. He insists negotiations should be held without any preconditions.

President Barack Obama called Abbas last week, following the U.S. president’s meeting with Netanyahu. The White House said Obama and Abbas talked about ways to revive direct talks soon.

“We have presented our vision and thoughts and said that if progress is made, we will move to direct talks, but that if no progress is made, it (direct negotiations) will be futile,” Abbas said in a speech late Saturday.

“If they (the Israelis) say `come and let’s start negotiations from zero,’ that is futile and pointless,” Abbas added.

The Palestinians say they that after 17 years of intermittent talks, they don’t want to start all over again, especially with an Israeli leader who has retreated from positions presented by his predecessors.

In the absence of direct talks, a U.S. envoy has been shuttling between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent weeks.

Abbas’ aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Palestinian radio Sunday that the Palestinians don’t want to enter open-ended negotiations with Israel.

“There must be a … timetable, a framework for these negotiations,” he said. “We will not enter new negotiations that could take more than 10 years.”

Netanyahu said in New York last week that if Abbas agreed to sit down with him in direct talks, then a peace agreement could be hammered out within a year.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War. They have said the 1967 borders must be the baseline for negotiations, but that they are ready to swap some land to enable Israel to keep some of the largest settlements it has built on occupied land since 1967.

Netanyahu says he will not relinquish any part of Jerusalem and has not presented his own border plan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a religious ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a religious ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)

A Palestinian photographer lies on the ground after being manhandled by Israeli troops while covering a demonstration by Palestinian and foreign protesters north of Hebron. (AFP)

A Palestinian photographer lies on the ground after being manhandled by Israeli troops while covering a demonstration by Palestinian and foreign protesters north of Hebron. (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

More Posts

Follow Me:
FacebookGoogle PlusYouTube