Abbas urges Obama to impose Mideast peace solution
Netanyahu agrees to release prisoners, remove roadblocks as goodwill gestures to PA, Al-Hayat reports.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Obama administration on Saturday to impose a solution to the Middle East conflict that would give his people an independent state.
"Mr. President [Barack Obama] and members of the American administration, since you believe in this [an independent Palestinian state], it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution," Abbas said in a speech.
Abbas made the remarks to members of his Fatah party in the West Bank city of Ramallah a day after talks there with Obama's Middle East envoy. George Mitchell is in the region to try to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
"We've asked them [the Obama administration] more than once: 'Impose a solution,'" Abbas said.
Abbas also rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders, an idea he said was recently proposed for restarting peace talks.
In his speech, Abbas referred to recent proposals - apparently from Israel - for a temporary state but did not elaborate. Frankly, we will not accept the state with temporary borders, because it is being offered these days, he said.
He said the Palestinians were being asked to take a state with provisional borders on 40 or 50 percent, and after that we will see.
Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh denied that Israel officially raised the idea.
However, a Palestinian academic said Israel offered Abbas such a state on more than 50 percent of the West Bank. The academic said he served as a go-between for the two sides and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
A Palestinian state with provisional borders is part of the U.S.-backed road map peace plan as an interim step toward full independence.
Mitchell told Israel and the Palestinians on Friday that Obama wants a comprehensive peace deal to be a reality soon and not in some vague and distant future time.
Pressing both sides to end a 16-month suspension of negotiations, Obama wants "proximity talks" on a deal to start within weeks. He has said peace is a vital strategic interest of the United States as it battles Islamic militants abroad.
Abbas' appeal to Obama came amid widespread media reports that the U.S. president was considering floating a proposal that would set the contours of a final peace deal.
Any such move would likely be opposed by Israel, which says only negotiations can secure a final settlement to the conflict.
Report: Netanyahu agrees to new gestures toward Abbas
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, to remove several roadblocks in the West Bank, and to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip, as a series of gestures towards Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the London-based Arabic Language news agency Al-Hayat reported on Saturday.
During his meeting with United States special Mideast envoy Mitchell on Friday, Netanyahu also agreed to enable the Palestinian Authority to act in Area C, which contains most Israeli settlements, in the West Bank.
However, Netanyahu refused the U.S. demand to freeze construction in East Jerusalem as well as the request to return all territories classified as Area C in the West Bank to PA control, Al-Hayat reported.
The West Bank was divided in 1995 into Areas A, B and C, in accordance with an Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement. More than 70,000 Palestinians live in Area C, which according to the Oslo Accord gives Israel full civilian and military control of the area.
Palestinian sources quoted by the London-based paper said that, despite the new gestures, Abbas rejected Netanyahu's recent offer to establish a Palestinian state within temporary borders on over 60 percent of West Bank territories, as he believed that the offer was an attempt to drag him into sterile negotiations in order to perpetuate the PA as a temporary borders.
Israeli and American officials reportedly conveyed the offer to Abbas, while President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both attempted to convince the U.S. that this was the only way to prevent a continuous Middle East conflict, Al-Hayat reported.