Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday he opposed another intifada even if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations failed. Speaking with reporters during a visit to Tunisia, Abbas added that he remained committed to the U.S.-backed target of reaching a negotiated agreement by September.
But with talks stalled for months, he repeated his plan to unilaterally seek UN endorsement of Palestinian independence within the 1967 borders in the absence of a deal.
At a news conference before heading to France, Abbas said he would turn to the UN General Assembly, where he said he expects about 140 countries to vote in favor of an independent Palestine.
But Abbas also said that whatever happens, "I will not accept a third military uprising," noting that the last armed uprising against Israel "was disastrous for us."
However, he added that he he still supported popular resistance against Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
"We have the popular resistance. But to say that you want to hold a gun or pistol to fight, then excuse me, I will not allow that as long as I'm the president," he said.
Abbas called on the international community, in particular Washington, to pressure Israel to restart negotiations, saying that "if Israel shows a serious willingness to negotiate, for our part we want to reach a solution."
He said that, while in Paris, he would ask French President Nicolas Sarkozy to give new momentum to the peace process through the Quartet - the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and Russia.
According to Abbas, negotiations with Israel stalled over the issue of construction in the settlements. He said the United States had failed to persuade Israel to stop construction, which he said led the Palestinian Authority to the UN Security Council, where "unfortunately, the United States used its veto power." He was referring to the U.S. veto of the anti-settlement resolution in late February.
The secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said yesterday the PA would turn to the General Assembly if U.S. efforts failed to broker an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The assembly's decisions are not legally binding, so the vote would largely be symbolic, designed to make construction in the settlements harder for Israel and pave the way for sanctions following such building.
Meanwhile in Bi'lin in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad kicked off the sixth international conference for Palestinian Popular Resistance. Fayyad called on the international community to promote Palestinian self determination, saying that "The international community must be committed to promoting a Palestinian state withing the 1967 borders and supporting the planned deceleration of independence coming September."
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