Abbas: Mideast peace deal won't happen with me
Palestinian leader tells Egypt TV he will certainly step down due to stalled peace process.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week countered Israeli and American claims that a Middle East peace deal could be reached before the end of his term.
In an interview with Egyptian television on Wednesday, Abbas also denied that either side has been pleading with him persistently to remain in office against his declared plan not to run for presidency in the Palestinian Authority's next election.
"If [Israeli and U.S.] intentions are sincere, then I am still here and have been here for years - they could have reached a deal with me already," said Abbas. "If Israel is prepared to advance peace on the basis of prior agreements and in accordance with the outline laid out in the road map, then it can do so with any Palestinian leader that succeeds me."
Abbas said he had made clear during talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that he did not see himself as likely to convince Israel to halt construction in West Bank settlements. "I told President Obama, if you can't halt [settlements] why could I?"
His decision to step down - viewed by many in the international community as a political tactic - was final, said Abbas. "There is nothing I can give to my people, so I should quit," he said. "My decision is clear: I will not run in any elections."
The Palestinian president said his decision stemmed both from personal reasons as well as the failure of the political process and Israel's "campaign" against the Goldstone Commission's damning report on the war in the Gaza Strip.
"The existing political situation and Israel's consistent refusal, particularly with regard to settlements and East Jerusalem, make my direction very clear," said Abbas. "There is nowhere to go."
Between 2000 and 2008 peace negotiations were completely stalled, said Abbas, adding that they resumed briefly under former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before crashing again. "And thus," he said, "Accusations that we are holding negotiations for the sake of negotiations are inaccurate."