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Peace and Settlement cannot go together, says Abbas

Monday, August 23, 2010 07:50:45 AM, News Desk

Malegaon: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday expressed his hope that Israeli will choose the peace option and not the settlement one.

The Palestinian president’s remarks came in a letter the chief Palestinian negotiator sent to US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, reports Arab News Correspondent, Mohammad Mar'i from Ramallah.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Friday to launch direct Middle East peace talks on Sept. 2 in Washington. She said peace negotiations can be completed within one year and that the talks should start without precondition.

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel have accused the other of setting preconditions for the talks, questioning the other side's sincerity.

The Israeli government has described the PA's demand to freeze the Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank as a precondition. The PA, on the other hand, has asserted that Israel has imposed conditions for the talks by repeatedly mentioning its requirements that cannot be negotiated in any peace deal.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to strengthen that perception when he said that any peace deal with the Palestinians is possible only if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a "Jewish people's state" and agreed to the establishment of a "demilitarized Palestinian state."

“We are talking about a peace agreement between Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state, and this state, if it is established at the end of the process ... is meant to end the conflict and not to be a foundation for its continuation by other means,” Netanyahu said.

"Achieving peace is possible, but difficult," he said. "I am aware that there is a great deal of skepticism after 17 years, and it is possible to understand why. We want to surprise all the skeptics, but for that we also need the other side."

The Palestinians have balked at that demand that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying it could prejudice the rights of Israel's Arab minority and compromise the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes vacated in the fighting around Israel's establishment in 1948.

The 22-member Arab League expressed "deep concern" over Israel's position. A statement by the group said the organization fears that "Israel's explanation" for the basis of the resumption of the talks would lead "once again to a vicious circle" of fruitless negotiations.


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