Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared over the weekend in Ramallah that he prefers returning to negotiations with Israel over demanding that the United Nations vote on recognizing a Palestinian state.
Abbas was participating in a meeting with a delegation from the Socialist International on Saturday, at which the organization's secretary general, Luis Ayala, was present. Also present were Hilik Bar, secretary general of Israel's Labor Party, and Dror Morag, Meretz's secretary general.
Abbas told his interlocutors that his first, second and third priorities were negotiations - and that only his last priority was making a move at the UN.
He went on to say that Israel's perception of the statehood initiative as being unilateral was incorrect, and that it is in fact multilateral: led by the Palestinian Authority and more than 100 other countries. Abbas said he was going to the UN due to a lack of choice, because he understood that no diplomatic progress is likely to be made with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and because he wants to fulfill his promise to his people for a state to be created, in his lifetime.
Abbas criticized Netanyahu throughout the meeting, saying the prime minister had not talked to him seriously since taking office, and stressing that every attempt to talk to the Israeli leader had failed. The president explained that he had made many efforts and waited patiently to resume talks with Israel, but to no avail. He also expressed the hope that the Labor Party and the Israeli peace camp in general will grow stronger.
The Palestinian president also disclosed in Ramallah that he had personally approached the leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC ), knowing that they wielded considerable influence over Netanyahu.
Abbas told Ayala, Morag and Bar that when he was elected, he promised his people three things: security, economic well-being and an end to the occupation. He noted that the first goal has largely been reached; life in Ramallah is now safe and the Palestinian police have been working to ensure the safety of local and foreign tourists as well. Moreover, in comparison to recent years, he noted, the Palestinian economy is flourishing today.
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