London / Tel Aviv, Asharq Al-Awsat – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the US deal with Israel that includes providing Tel Aviv with 20 F-35 fighter jets worth 3 billion dollars in addition to 20 billion dollars of US aid being linked to a 3 month Israeli settlement freeze and a resumption of direct Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat from Amman prior to departing for Cairo where he is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that “we reject linking the [military] fighter jet deal to a settlement freeze in any form, this [deal] has nothing to do with us, and we have nothing to do with this issue…this is our position and it will not change.” He added “the US is an Israeli ally and we cannot prevent it [from making such deals] however let such assistance be away from the path of Palestinian negotiations and not used as a pretext to provide Israel with more arms.”
As for his meeting with David Hill, who is an aide to US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, Abbas said “I met with Hill in Ramallah yesterday, but he came empty-handed with nothing [new] to offer or say…we are waiting for new developments to be transmitted to us by the Americans.”
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed the meeting of the Ministerial Committee on National Security following a night of negotiations with the US administration, in which this US deal was discussed in return for an Israeli settlement freeze. According to Israeli sources, the reason for this postponement is that the draft proposal shows that US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and not US President Barack Obama will sign any agreement, and that this document does not include any commitments with regards to Jerusalem.
During a press conference held yesterday following her meeting with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “I can only repeat what I have said, that we are in close touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. We’re working intensively to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations that can lead to a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace, because we continue to believe strongly that it is only through negotiations between the parties themselves that all final status issues can be resolved and the conflict ended, because the current status quo is unacceptable.”