Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he would not resume direct peace talks with Israel until it freezes construction in the West Bank's settlements.
In an interview with CNN, which will be aired overnight Friday, Abbas also accused Hamas of trying to sabotage the negotiations and said he would not resign even if negotiations collapse.
"Our demand to halt settlement construction is not a precondition," Abbas said in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims. "We reached an agreement with the Israelis on this matter when we accepted the road map back in 1995.
"To ask us to continue with negotiations while settlement activities continue is unacceptable because the time will come and we will have nothing to negotiate for," said the Palestinian leader, who regards the settlements "as an illegal activity."
"I know that they have built many settlements but this is enough, we cannot take that anymore. We cannot continue with the negotiations because the way they are building those settlements now is very ferocious, particularly in Jerusalem."
The president said the Palestinians would demand that any permanent peace agreement include the dismantling of the settlements "built on Palestinian land since 1967, as we consider their establishment illegal."
'We can't take it.' Construction in Ha-Homa (Archive photo: AP)
Asked about the possibility that Israel would not halt settlement construction, Abbas said, "This would only be interpreted as a statement that they simply do not want peace. In this case we have a number of options, such as asking the Americans to present both sides with guiding principles or turn to the UN Security Council and even the General Assembly."
'Iran pressuring Hamas.' Abbas talks to CNN reporter
"If the Americans won’t succeed in bringing the sides to the negotiation table, they have an obligation to help us approach the Security Council and the UN General Assembly," he added.
However, Abbas said Israel was not solely responsible for the stalemate. "Hamas and whoever is standing behind Hamas, meaning Iran, is slowing the process," he told CNN.
"Iran is pressuring Hamas not to be part of any agreement, so that they can use Hamas as a negotiations card in their talks with international community and especially with the United States," said Abbas.
Meanwhile, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met with the US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in Washington on Thursday. The two discussed US efforts to renew negotiations and the possible resumption of the settlement construction freeze.
"We will see the American response to Palestinian efforts to renew the freeze in the near future" Erekat said at the end of the meeting. He noted that since the end of the construction freeze on September 26, "our documents point at the initiation of over 900 Israeli construction projects in the West bank and east Jerusalem."
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