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Middle east

Abbas demands end to Israeli settlements on Arafat anniversary

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-11

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has reiterated the need for a clear framework for peace talks, including an end to Israeli settlement construction, in an address to mark the fifth anniversary of his predecessor Yasser Arafat's death.

REUTERS - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called again on Wednesday for a halt to Israeli settlement building before he would resume talks with Israel, accusing it of trying to scupper Palestinian statehood. 

Addressing supporters of his Fatah party in Ramallah on the fifth anniversary of the death of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas said U.N. resolutions called for there to be a "clear framework" for talks to end more than 60 years of conflict.
 
"We cannot go to negotiations without a framework. And we say the framework is U.N. resolutions, meaning a return to the 1967 borders," Abbas said. "What's new in this demand?
 
"Also, we want a full stop to settlements, including natural growth and in Jerusalem," the 74-year-old leader said.
 
The Palestinian leader told the crowd he did not want to go into his desire not to seek a second term as president in a January election.
 
"On this occasion, I don't want to talk again about my wish not to run in the upcoming elections," Abbas said.
 
"As I said in my speech, there will be other decisions ... that I will take in light of coming developments," he said, referring to his announcement last week that he would not seek re-election.
 
Abbas said resuming negotiations required the Israeli government's commitment to the framework of the peace process, which included halting settlement activity.
 
"Without this, I will not agree," he told supporters.
 
He accused Israel of trying to thwart the internationally backed "two-state solution" for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
 
January vote unlikely
 
Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967. The Palestinians want their own state in the two main territories, with Jerusalem as its capital.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out going beyond a partial limitation on Jewish settlement building in areas of the occupied West Bank not annexed by Israel to its Jerusalem municipality.
During a visit to Jerusalem earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Netanyahu's offer of "restraint" on settlements without repeating earlier U.S. calls for a freeze.
 
President Barack Obama has increased pressure on Abbas in recent weeks to resume negotiations, suspended a year ago, without waiting for further Israeli limitations on settlement.
 
Abbas rejects that approach and aides say his disenchantment with the apparent shift in U.S. policy over settlements was behind his announcement last week that he would prefer not to stand in a presidential election he has called for January.
Many analysts see the elections and the threat to quit as part of a negotiating tactic on the part of Abbas.
 
His Islamist rivals Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip, have ruled out holding elections there, leading analysts to conclude that a vote in January is unlikely.
 
Abbas told supporters he still had his hand extended to Hamas, offering reconciliation after the violent schism that split the Palestinians in 2007, and he urged his rivals to sign an Egyptian proposal to end their division.
 
"We have agreed to the Egyptian document and we call upon Hamas to accept it without procrastination," he said. "Our hand is extended for reconciliation."

Date created : 2009-11-11

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