Abbas says no talks without Israeli settlement freeze

RAMALLAH, West Bank Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:02am EDT

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves to the crowd during a celebration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, upon his return from the U.N. General Assembly in the U.S., September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves to the crowd during a celebration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, upon his return from the U.N. General Assembly in the U.S., September 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Whiteside

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeated on Sunday his refusal to talk with Israel without a settlement freeze after international mediators, responding to his United Nations bid for statehood, urged negotiations within a month.

"We have confirmed to all that we want to achieve our rights through peaceful means, through negotiations -- but not just any negotiations," Abbas told a cheering crowd of thousands on his return to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"We will not accept (negotiations) until legitimacy is the foundation and they cease settlement completely," he said, two days after presenting the application for Palestinian statehood and addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed a year ago after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month limited moratorium on construction in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians say the settlements, built on land Israel captured in a 1967 war, would deny them a viable state. Israel cites historic and Biblical links to the West Bank, which it calls by its Hebrew names, Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu, who has termed a settlement freeze an unacceptable precondition, gave no indication in his own speech at the U.N. of any change in his position. He urged Abbas to return to peace talks.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, has said it will block the statehood move in the Security Council, which is expected to convene on Monday to discuss the application Abbas made after 20 years of failed Israeli-Palestinian talks.

NEW AGENDA

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have responded formally to a plan from the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the U.N. -- for a return to direct negotiations.

The forum urged Israel and the Palestinians to meet within a month and set a new agenda for talks, with the aim of achieving a peace deal by the end of 2012 that would result in the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Netanyahu welcomed the Quartet's call but reserved an official reply until he meets with senior cabinet ministers after his return on Monday from New York.

Abbas has said he would discuss the ideas with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders and other senior Palestinian officials.

Hours before Abbas returned to the West Bank, Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said there would be "tough repercussions" if the U.N. approved the statehood application {nS1E78L2CV].

Lieberman, who heads a far-right party in Netanyahu's governing coalition, did not spell out what action Israel might take. He said Israel had reservations about the Quartet's proposal but was "ready to open immediate negotiations" with the Palestinians.

In the past, Lieberman has suggested severing ties with Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, if it wins recognition without a peace deal with Israel.

Israel is concerned that even if the United States vetoes a statehood resolution in the Security Council, the Palestinians could still win approval in the General Assembly for a more limited U.N. membership.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Sophie Hares)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (7)
kerahdah wrote:
Why should Palestine give a continental about what Israel thinks?.
When Israel became a member of the UN in 1948, they were not required to sign any peace deals despite the fact that the land they occupied was stolen from the Palestinians. It’s no wonder anti-semitism is still rife. No one owes the Jews a thing. Americans clearly think they do!

Sep 25, 2011 3:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
builder7 wrote:
Why can’t Israel negotiate a peace agreement and a statehood agreement in conjunction with a UN peace agreement and statehood agreement? If they are going to negotiate in good faith, which they aren’t, because people should know this after 44 years since the 1967 war and how many years since Israel started taking Palestinian land from them in the early 1950′s. Israel has no intention of ever giving the land back that they took nor of letting the Palestinians having statehood. Instead, they want to run all the people out of that land and take it for themselves, except for the unusable desert areas. This conflict has cost us $Trillions of dollars over at least a half century and we are still at the beginning point. Israel had many US Presidents try to help them negotiate by giving them money (bribery) and other means, but to no avail. It has been a massive US failure to try to see peace there and a waste of time because the Israeli’s think that the US are a bunch of fools. The only way that this conflict will ever be over if outside interests get involved like the UN, although that will also probably not help much. The Israelis have no intention of letting Palestine go to a bunch of Palestinians! They have plans to build nice, California style homes in the high areas. So how many years more is Israel going to jack our chains, Mr. Netanyahu?!

Sep 25, 2011 3:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Afrovoice wrote:
Strange, Israel issues have always to be followed with threat, either from the US or Israel. Why insisting of talks that never bring any results. UN Veto powers have to be scrapped to bring any justice into the world body. Wake up Europe and America, if Arab spring is not a wake up call, we would have a world spring soon and things will change completely.

Sep 25, 2011 5:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.