Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DTN News: Abbas Demands Israel Halt Settlement Before Talks

Defense News: DTN News: Abbas Demands Israel Halt Settlement Before Talks
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - July 21, 2010: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement insisted on Tuesday that direct peace talks with Israel hinge on a complete halt to Jewish settlement building.
Negotiations are a means and the objective is to end the Israeli occupation, establish an independent Palestinian state," said Jibril Rajub, secretary of Fatah's Central Committee.
"And if settlement building is completely frozen and a timetable for the talks is set in line with clear and specified constants, we should not have a problem in negotiations with Israel."
But Rajub said Israel "does not recognise Palestinian rights."
"And it does not recognise international legitimacy. The international community therefore should reconsider the legitimacy of Israel, particularly if it continues to ignore Palestinian rights," he said.
He added that the central committee has set the foundation for direct talks with Israel.
"President Abbas has told US envoy George Mitchell that there will be no direct negotiations unless Israel freezes the settlements in all Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem," Rajub said.
"President Abbas will go to Cairo to personally inform our Arab brothers at the Arab League on July 29 about international efforts related to the direct and indirect talks."
The Palestinians have long demanded a complete freeze on Israeli settlement expansion ahead of direct talks. They have accused Israel of undermining the process by approving new settler homes in mostly Arab annexed east Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of their promised state.
"The central committee wants to see progress in the issues of security and borders," senior Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan said in a statement.
"Without meeting Palestinian demands, Fatah cannot agree on the American request to have direct talk with Israel."
In May, Mitchell helped start indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians and has been shuttling between both sides to try and clinch an agreement to a face-to-face meeting between them.
The Palestinians suspended direct talks in December 2008 after Israel launched a devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip, and Abbas has said he will not renew them until there is progress on the contentious issues of borders and security.

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