Abbas: Palestinian people have national right to resistance
After meeting Abbas and King Abdullah in Amman, Mitchell urges Israel and Palestinians to show restraint.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that the Palestinian people had a national right to resistance against Israeli occupation, adding that his government would not acquiesce to any Israeli demands with which it disagreed.
Abbas was speaking after a meeting in Amman with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who in turn urged the two sides to exercise restraint. The Obama administration was seeking to establish conditions for the stalled Israel-Palestinian talks to resume," he said.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said the Palestinians wanted to give a chance to indirect talks with Israel mediated by the United States.
Mitchell and Erekat spoke in Amman, the Jordanian capital, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Washington. His trip there comes as U.S. and Israeli officials try to ease one of their worst-ever crises that erupted when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new apartments in east Jerusalem, the part of the city that the Palestinians want as capital of their future state.
The announcement, made during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, threw U.S.-sponsored peace talks into doubt and helped set off Palestinian protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On Monday, Mitchell told reporters that the U.S. would continue talking to Israel and the Palestinians as we seek to establish the conditions which will make possible the early commencement of proximity talks.
He did not elaborate, but added: "We urge all sides to exercise restraint...What is needed now is a period of calm, quiet in which we can go forward in the effort in which we are engaged."
"The U.S. wants to enter proximity talks at the earliest possible time in a manner in which we hope will lead to direct negotiations and ultimately to an agreement that leads to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Mitchell said after talks with Abbas in Amman.
Washington, he said, envisaged a future Palestinian state that is economically independent, geographically contiguous.
The American later met with Jordan's King Abdullah II, a strong U.S. ally and the leader of only two Arab nations that signed peace treaties with Israel.
A palace statement quoted Abdullah as telling Mitchell that Israel must stop all unilateral measures in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially provocative moves aimed at changing Jerusalem's identity and threaten its holy sites.
Separately, Erekat condemned Israel's settlement activities in east Jerusalem and added: "We need to give the proximity talks the chance they deserve, but we want to make sure that the decisions of the Israeli government to construct 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem and more to come is really stopped."
He said the Palestinians also wanted assurances that similar Israeli moves would be prevented in the future.