Abbas shaking hands with Defense Minister Barak during summit
Photo: Reuters
Haniyeh. With a gun and Koran
Photo: AFP

Abbas says Israel must keep 2008 word

Palestinian president insists Jewish state halt settlement building in territories, including east Jerusalem. Palestinian source says Americans promised settlements construction would be frozen

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that Israel must honor agreements on borders and Jerusalem which he says its government made in 2008 talks with the Palestinians if stalled peace negotiations are to resume.


Speaking after talks with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas also repeated Palestinian insistence that Israel halt settlement building in the territories, including east Jerusalem.


In a prepared statement made available to reporters, Abbas said, "In today's meetings we confirmed our positions and commitment to the road map and its implementation. We also demanded that the Israeli side fulfill its commitments on settlements, including on natural growth.


"As for resuming talks, this depends on a definition of the negotiating process that means basing them on recognizing the need to withdraw to the 1967 borders and ending the occupation, as was discussed with the previous Israeli government when we defined the occupied territories as the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.


"This was reiterated in the talks with President Obama and in the trilateral talks. We believe the American administration will review the positions of the two sides in the coming weeks to make it possible for us to renew peace talks based on our stated position."


Officials and diplomats have said that Netanyahu's centrist predecessor Ehud Olmert last year discussed land swaps with Abbas that would have given Palestinians close to the full amount of territory Israel captured in 1967 and also spoke about dividing control of the city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians.


However, no clear agreements were ever published before talks were suspended in December. Netanyahu, a right-winger who took office in March, has made clear he does wish to repeat any such offers that Olmert may have made.


"We are certainly not obligated to the positions of the previous government," Netanyahu said in New York.


'Obama only criticized Netanyahu'

A Palestinian source told Ynet that during the summit the Palestinians received a commitment from the American administration that there would be no construction in the settlement.


"These is a dispute over 2,500 housing units which are already being build, but apart from that – the Americans are promising that not one housing unit will be added."


Watching summit at Gaza café (Photo: AP)


According to the source, Obama's criticism was directly solely at Netanyahu. "If one could talk about a reprimand on such occasions, it was directed towards the Israeli side. The messages we have received in recent days ahead of the summit were that the Americans understand there is only one obstacle – Netanyahu and his policy."


The source added that the Palestinians have understood that peace negotiations would not be forced on them without the Israelis honoring their commitments, and first an foremost – a stop to settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.


"Even if Netanyahu fails to declare during Thursday's speech that the construction in the settlements will stop, we have understood from the Americans that it would be halted in practice and that Netanyahu's political constraints should not serve as a consideration before the peace process.


"We understood from the Americans that the process of establishing a Palestinian state has been started and launched and that it cannot be stopped, and that an agreement must be reached within the timeframe declared by the American president."


Hamas: Abbas waived only condition

Meanwhile, the Hamas organization continued to take the summit lightly. "While a summit is being held in Washington to waive Jerusalem, we in Gaza are having a meeting to fight for it," said Hamas' prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh.


Haniyeh spoke during a conference titled, "The al-Aqsa Victory." According to the Hamas leader, Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque would be freed by "those holding a gun in one hand and the Koran book in their other hand."


Deputy Hamas politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzouk said that by taking part in the summit, Abbas had given up on his only demand from Israel – to stop the settlements.


In an official statement, the Hamas movement said that the summit was "proof of the ongoing capitulation of the PA president to the American and Zionist desire" and a withdrawal from his stance that negotiation must not be held without halting the settlements.


"This suspicious summit encourages the continuation of the settlement attack in the West Bank and Jerusalem and supports the enemy's policy," the statement said. "It proves that Abu Mazen's statements on his refusal to negotiate and meet were simply empty slogans for media purposes only."


The Islamic Jihad presented a similar stand. The Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine released a statement saying that the summit was "a free gift" from Abbas to Netanyahu.


פרסום ראשון: 09.22.09, 23:07
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