Abbas: Israel must resume talks, leave Arab lands
Palestinian president urges return to negotiations toward final peace agreement; ‘don’t waste chance for peace,’ he says
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called on Israel to resume negotiations toward a final peace settlement, insisting on a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
In a prerecorded speech broadcast on Palestinian TV, Abbas appealed to Israel, “Don’t waste the chance of peace.” He said a solution depends on Israel “Recognizing our national rights, withdrawal from our lands and our Jerusalem, implementation of the international resolutions and finding a just solution and agreed upon to the issue of refugees.”
“This is a moment of truth,” Abbas said. “Peace in this region will not be established without the full Israeli withdrawal from the Arab and Palestinian lands occupied in 1967,” he said, referring to the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. Israel pulled out of Gaza unilaterally last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called for a meeting with Abbas, but Israel has never agreed to return all of the territories. In 2000, Israel offered to negotiate an exchange of territory to allow Israeli control over main Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as an arrangement over Jerusalem, but then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat turned it down, and violence erupted a few months later.
Abbas spoke as his moderate Fatah was negotiating with the ruling Hamas, a militant Islamic group, over a joint coalition government meant to bring an end to Western aid sanctions that have bankrupted the Palestinian government. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, and Hamas leaders said in recent days that they would not accept a Jewish state even if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.