Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: EPA

Abbas: We want settlements-free state

Palestinian president assures US lawmakers visiting West Bank that nearing UN bid for statehood meant to bolster peace process; as delegation of Arab FMs sets off to convince UN Security Council members to support membership request

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with US lawmakers visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip and urged them to lend their support to the formation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, the PA's WAFA news agency reported on Friday.


Abbas reportedly stressed that the future state must be "empty of settlements."



The US delegation was led by Senator Steny Hoyer (D), who is the Minority Whip of the House of Representatives. They toured the area on Thursday. 


Abbas reviewed the PA's policy, which is based on reaching a settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution and the 1967 borders. Should such a deal be reached, it would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.


Abbas further voiced his wish that a third party – preferably one made up of NATO forces under US command – would assume responsibility for the security of the future Palestinian state.


The Palestinian president stressed that the PA's "first, second and third choice is to establish the Palestinian state through negotiations," adding that Israel's settlement policy was the main obstacle to the peace process.


Abbas also assured the US legislators that his upcoming UN bid for statehood, though unilateral, does not contradict the essence of the peace process.


He said that the PA's bid was "not an attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel, but rather aimed at promoting the two-state solution."


Nimer Hammad, Abbas' chief political advisor, told the Palestinian news agency that, "The delegation raised a number of questions concerning the Jewish state issue, the Palestinian refugees and Fatah and Hamas reconciliation, in which the president emphasized the known Palestinian stance concerning these issues."


Eye on the prize

Meanwhile, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers is said to be on a mission of its own – to convince the permanent members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of Palestinian UN membership.


Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat said that the group aims to meet with representatives from the veto-wielding Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, in a bid to sway them in favor of the Palestinian request.


"A delegation of Arab foreign ministers, headed by the foreign minister of Qatar will visit the five permanent members at the end of next week to persuade them to vote for UN recognition and membership for the Palestinian state," Erakat said.


Erakat added that the Palestinians "remain committed to the UN path," despite Israel's recent approval of new construction in east Jerusalem.


He urged the United States "to reconsider their position rejecting the Palestinian move to go to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital."


"We call on (Obama) to support this approach because it is the only way to preserve the two-state solution," he added.


Erakat added that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had spoken with Abbas recently about the bid, and told him that the UN was ready to receive a membership request "any time from now until September 20."


AFP contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 08.12.11, 08:56
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