Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the Palestinians' main demand is "to end the blockade on Gaza" adding that he believed that "now the entire world stands with us."
During a visit to the United States, Abbas spoke at the Brookings Institute in Washington, remarking on a recent clash between Israeli navy commandos and Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship attempting to break Israel's three-year blockade on the Hamas ruled territory. Nine activists were killed in the clash that erupted after commandos were attacked with clubs and knives upon boarding the ship.
"[Israel] attacked innocent people who were unarmed and had no aggressive intentions," Abbas said, urging an international investigation into the event. Israel has so far rejected countless calls for an external investigation, insisting that Israeli investigators probe the incident. "The investigation could not be left in the hands of Israel, Israel cannot investigate itself," Abbas declared.
"We are offering Israel a 57-state solution," Abbas said, referring to the Arab peace initiative, offering Israel normalized ties with the Arab world in exchange for land. "Nobody wants war, at least speaking on behalf of the arab countries."
"We do not reject direct negotiations. In the beginning [U.S. President Barack] Obama said Israelis must stop settlements. It took him maybe a year and when he didn't succeed he went back to us with proximity talks. I told him, it's the first time in my life I hear about proximity talks. I know either direct or indirect talks. Netanyahu says nothing except for 'the Palestinians don’t want to talk to me.' Come to the table and talk," the Palestinian president went on to say.
"I didn’t live normal life," he added. "I don't have passport or nationality. I want my grandson to live a normal life."
"This week I spoke by phone with one of Hamas' leaders. Elections will be part of the reconciliation [between Abbas' party Fatah and the rival Hamas]. When we sign an agreement, we will immediately go to elections. And I’ll be out," Abbas concluded.
When he was asked by an Al-Jazeera reporter whether he really said what he was quoted in Haaretz as saying – that he doesn't reject the Jewish right to the land – Abbas replied that indeed he had said this, and even cited the Koran. "Jews are there and when you read the Holy Koran you have it there. That’s what I said."
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