MADRID, (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will call for urgent international action to jump start Middle East peace talks when he meets U.S. leader George W. Bush this week, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority last year agreed to try to reach a peace deal in 2008 and international pressure is needed if both sides are to meet objectives on the way to that goal, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said.
Abbas will ask Bush for the United States, and other members of the Middle East “quartet” of negotiators, to pressure Israel to meet commitments to freeze Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank and ease checkpoints that limit Palestinian mobility. “We want a clear and forceful intervention by the quartet so the two sides implement their obligations under the road map,” Maliki said during a speech to a Madrid to a political forum.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas agreed in Annapolis in November 2007 to begin peace talks and abide by a 2003 U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan, under which Palestinians must rein in militants and Israel, among other things, must cease settlement activity.
Maliki said he expected Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to soon agree to a truce with Israel. “I think we are very close to announcing a ceasefire in Gaza,” Maliki said. “I think we’ll have something positive very soon.”
Hamas plans to give Egyptian mediators its final response on Thursday to a reciprocal truce with Israel in the Gaza strip.