Amid the stalemate in peace negotiations with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he plans to unilaterally approach the UN Security Council and ask that it recognize an independent Palestinian state.
Following talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Cairo's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Ramallah, Abbas told reporters the Palestinian Authority would make the request in a matter of months.
"Israel has been taking unilateral measures - primarily with regards to settlement activity - for decades," he said.
During the press conference, the Palestinian leader said the Israeli government was responsible for recent acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
"We condemn the actions of the criminal settlers throughout the entire West Bank – from the desecration of mosques to the torching of schools and the destruction of olive trees. Despite our warning, the international community failed to act and allowed the settlers to continue to go wild while the Israeli army watched," Abbas said.
'Egypt backs PA demand.' Aboul Gheit (L) and Abbas (Photo: AP)
Abbas reiterated that resuming negotiations is his preferred choice, but that he will not do so without a settlement freeze.
For now, we are focusing on the first option (negotiations)," Abbas said.
Bibi: Talks the only wayAboul Gheit said US efforts to restart Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have not produced results so far, adding that "during the meeting, Egypt confirmed its ... support for the Palestinian demand."
The top Egyptian diplomat said his country "condemns settlement construction and the settlers' actions.
"We are constantly talking to the Israeli side to try and bring an end to the construction so that negotiations may resume," he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Thursday that Israel "expects that the Palestinians uphold their commitment to earnestly engage in direct talks, in good faith and with no preconditions."
"Any attempt to circumvent the direct talks by approaching international organizations will not promote genuine peace," he said. "Stable, secure peace for both peoples will only be achieved through direct negotiations, and I hope we return to this track in full force soon."
In talks with international officials, Netanyahu has been warning that should the world fail to make it clear to Abbas that the road to peace goes through direct talks, the Palestinians will keep evading the process and won't embark on it in earnest.
Attila Somfalvi and AP contributed to the report
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